(LONDON) — U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta took an uncharacteristic swipe at Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai after Karzai’s recent complaint that the U.S. is failing to go after militants based in Pakistan.
Panetta said on Friday night, “I think it would be helpful, if the president, every once and awhile would express his thanks for the sacrifices that have been made by those who’ve fought and died for Afghanistan rather than criticizing.”
The remarks come just days before Panetta and other NATO defense chiefs meet in Brussels to discuss the war and the way ahead, especially given the rise in so called insider attacks and the deadline for withdrawal.
Panetta added, “We’ve lost over two thousand U.S. men and women, ISAF has lost forces there and the Afghans have lost a large number of their forces in battle. Those lives were lost fighting the right enemy.”
Secretary Panetta will spend the next few days in South America before travelling on to Brussels and NATO.
Panetta made his remarks while en route to Peru at the start of a South America tour.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Paul Cruickshank and Michael Pearson, CNN