The faltering US-led campaign in Afghanistan was dealt a double-whammy on Thursday.
The Taliban broke off peace talks and President Hamid Karzai demanded Nato troops immediately pull out of rural areas because of national outrage over a US soldier's alleged massacre of 16 civilians.
The blows effectively torpedo Nato's two main tracks for winding up the war with its credibility intact.
The current exit strategy depends on the gradual transfer of authority to Afghan forces while another tack is to draw the Taliban into some sort of political dialogue with the unpopular Karzai administration.
Mr Karzai also said he now wants Afghan forces to take the lead for countrywide security in 2013, a year ahead of the schedule outlined by occupying powers.
"Afghan security forces have the ability to keep the security in rural areas and in villages on their own," Mr Karzai said after meeting visiting US Defence Secretary Leon Panetta.
President Barack Obama and British Prime Minister David Cameron said in Washington on Wednesday that they and their Nato allies were committed to shifting to a support role in Afghanistan in 2013.
But Mr Karzai's demand for an immediate Nato withdrawal from rural areas piles pressure on them to heed public sentiment, which is increasingly in favour of the troops coming home now.
The Taliban said they were calling off negotiations with the United States because the US kept changing the terms of negotiations.
Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid said the Islamist resistance movement wanted to limit talks to prisoner exchanges and the establishment of a political office in Qatar but US negotiators wanted to broaden the discussion.
Mr Mujahid said US officials had recently made new demands in the talks but did not specify what they were.