April 26 - Both Afghan President Hamid Karzai and NATO express optimism for the future despite a rise in civilian casualties this year. Deborah Lutterbeck reports.
Preparing for an exit in Afghanistan. The US will draw down 34,000 troops this year -- about half of its forces in Afghanistan. What is left on the ground after 2014 is still a matter of debate. At this weeks NATO meeting Afghan President Hamid Karzai expressed confidence about the future. (SOUNDBITE) (English) AFGHAN PRESIDENT HAMID KARZAI, SAYING: "Afghanistan, Mister Secretary General will definitely be able to provide for the security of the Afghan people." This sense of optimism about Afghanistan's future is shared by Nato's Brigadier General Gunter Katz. (SOUNDBITE) (English)NATO'S BRIGADIER GENERAL GUNTER KATZ, SAYING: "We had great achievements in terms of young children and teenagers in Afghanistan . Over eight million go to school now, over 40 percent are girls. We established a health system that enables 85 percent of the population to reach medical facilities within an hour." Close to 3300 foreign troops have died in Afghanistan since the war was launched in 2001, according to icasualities. (SOUNDBITE) (English)NATO'S BRIGADIER GENERAL GUNTER KATZ, SAYING: "We are confident that this country will move into a better future." The UN envoy to Afghanistan said civilian causalities rose nearly 30 percent in the first three months of the year.