(CNN) — A deadly bombing in the Afghan capital during a visit by U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel showed that the “Taliban are serving the foreigners and are not against the foreigner,” Afghan President Hamid Karzai said Sunday.
The Taliban want a “longer presence of foreigners, not their departure from Afghanistan,” Karzai said.
Hours later, a scheduled news conference between Hagel and Karzai was canceled. Pentagon spokesman George Little said the schedule had changed “for a variety of reasons, to include decisions related to security in Kabul that were reached in consultation with our Afghan partners.”
Karzai’s remarks came as the United States makes decisions about bringing troops home.
In a televised speech, he said there are “ongoing daily talks between Taliban, American and foreigners in Europe and in the Gulf states.”
While there have been some reconciliation talks in the past, the United States has not said any such talks are currently under way.
In January, a U.S. official said reconciliation talks were showing “some signs of life” after being dormant for a year.
The blast in Kabul on Saturday killed at least nine people and wounded 14 others, police said.
A suicide bomber apparently targeted the Afghan Ministry of Defense, said Charlie Stadtlander, spokesman for NATO’s International Security Assistance Force.
Hagel was not injured, and is in a safe ISAF location, according to the U.S. military.
A Taliban spokesman claimed responsibility for the attack and expressed pleasure with Hagel’s proximity at the time.