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Afghans summon US envoy over ‘civil war’ remark

KABUL — Afghan President Hamid Karzai summoned Washington’s ambassador in Kabul to protest a fellow American diplomat’s remarks that Afghanistan is experiencing a civil war, the US Embassy confirmed Wednesday.

The comments by James Dobbins, the US special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, struck a nerve among Afghan leaders because they are trying to ease growing fears about what will happen once US-led foreign troops complete their withdrawal from this country next year.

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Already, as foreign troops have reduced their presence, Taliban militants have stepped up attacks, and some fear that the years after the 2014 withdrawal could see a return to the bloody civil war of the early 1990s, when ethnic-based factions fought one another for control of the country.

In a recent interview with Voice of America’s Deewa news service, Dobbins said, ‘‘there already is, of course, a civil war in Afghanistan.’’

That has drawn rebukes from Karzai spokesman Aimal Faizi, who argued that if Dobbins’s assertion was true, then the United States was an actor in a civil war instead of fighting terrorism.

US Ambassador James Cunningham was summoned to the presidency on Tuesday over the matter, the embassy confirmed.

Embassy spokesman Robert Hilton declined to characterize the meeting, but the mission has issued multiple statements downplaying Dobbins’s remarks.

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