May 11th, 2010
09:22 AM ET

Putting tensions aside, Clinton opens key talks with Karzai

WASHINGTON - Brushing recent public spats aside, the Obama administration welcomed Hamid Karzai to Washington Tuesday, opening a round of partnership talks with the Afghan president.

At a breakfast meeting, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton welcomed Karzai for several days of partnership talks. Later Tuesday, Clinton is expected to hold closed-door bilateral talks with Karzai. President Barack Obama will host his Afghan counterpart at the White House on Wednesday.

Clinton said Tuesday that the United States' commitment to Afghanistan remains strong and will continue long after U.S. combat troops have withdrawn. But she said it was unrealistic to expect the two nations to see eye to eye on every issue.

"President Obama and President Karzai both understand that the ability to disagree on issues of importance is not an obstacle to achieving our shared objectives but rather it reflects a level of trust," she said.

Karzai expressed thanks on behalf of the Afghan nation to the American people for the sacrifices they have made there. He said Afghanistan will remain a dependable partner with United States and its allies in the global war on terror.

However, he also acknowledged the recent rift.

"As two mature nations and two mature governments - by now the Afghan government is mature, too - we will have disagreements time to time but that is a sign of a mature relationship, and a steady relationship."

Karzai's first visit to Washington after his re-election comes after prickly talk centering on the Afghan president's ability to rein in corruption and institute good governance practices.

Karzai was handed a victory in last August's national vote, marred by irregularities that forced a runoff. Since then, the Obama administration has publicly pressured Karzai to rid his government of graft and improve delivery of services to the Afghan people.

Karzai irritated U.S. officials when he blamed election fraud on foreigners who want a "puppet government" in Afghanistan. He further aggravated his most powerful ally when he told tribal leaders that the U.S.-led military alliance would not move against Taliban fighters in Kandahar "until you say we can."

Media reports have also included harsh criticism of Karzai by a former United Nations diplomat as well as claims that Karzai said he would consider joining the Taliban insurgency.

At one point, the White House indicated it would call off this week's visit.

But in recent weeks, the United States and Afghanistan have sought to play down their differences, rejecting the idea of any dispute between its leaders.

U.S. Ambassador Karl Eikenberry noted Monday that there have been "ups and downs" in the relationship with Karzai.

He said he expects the United States and Afghanistan "to be able to work our way through difficulties and come back together and still find ourselves well-aligned" as a result of Karzai's talks with Obama.

"There will be serious dialogues in the days ahead on far-ranging issues, including how to best deliver on our government's commitment to help accelerate the strengthening of Afghan security and judicial institutions," Eikenberry said.

Asked if Karzai is a dependable partner for the United States, Eikenberry responded that he is the elected president of a close friend and ally. At the same time, he said Karzai's government must improve transparency and accountability, and that those issues will be discussed this week.

"The United States government, I know our administration, is in full support of President Karzai's efforts right now to make improvements there," Eikenberry said. "Much has to be done."

Karzai's visit also comes as questions arise about the timing of a planned U.S.-led military offensive on the Kandahar area that is the spiritual center of the Taliban.

U.S. military leaders acknowledged challenges to the eventual goal of turning over security to the Afghans.

"We will encounter increased violence as our combined security forces expand into Taliban-controlled areas," said Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the allied military leader.

McChrystal offered no specifics on when the offensive might start, but said securing control of the region is a goal of the U.S. mission in Afghanistan.

"Our strategic priority is a development of the Afghan National Army and police, the forces that will ultimately secure Afghanistan," he said. "Much work lies ahead to mature this force, but its growth is largely on track."

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Filed under: Decision: Afghanistan • Kandahar • Karzai • Obama • White House
soundoff (23 Responses)
  1. doug denunzio

    september 11th 2001 never occured with 13R-31L thing with nothing from Riverdale.

    July 29, 2010 at 10:51 am | Report abuse |
  2. Albert

    " As soon as the U.S leaves Afghanistan I am sure you will see Karzi and all his Kronies move to another country with his family. We will see his loyalty and where his love for his Country really is. History will repeat itself and U.S backed puppets will come tumbling down."

    July 6, 2010 at 1:16 pm | Report abuse |
  3. JMC

    Ohm Shanti... Mrs. Clinton & Mr. Obama... Ohm Shanti... Brahma... Vishnu... Mahesh... Kato... Kalesh... The Power of GOD is derived from LOVE, the desire for PEACE and the commitment to One's GOD... I LOVE you both, and wish you the most Absolute of Prosperity in the Preservation of Peace... Ohm Shanti...
    -jc

    May 12, 2010 at 2:16 pm | Report abuse |
  4. simple01

    Welcome mat for disgrace leader!
    A month ago he threatens to join Taliban.
    Coalition forces needs to replace this crook with a real Afghan leader.

    May 12, 2010 at 1:36 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Iraq Paramedic

    If the terrorist do stike the USA again let's hope Kharzi is meeting with Obama inside the blast radius when it happens. OK, that is a bad thought, I should not think those types of things. Please forgive me Lord.
    May GOD bless & keep us all !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    May 12, 2010 at 6:53 am | Report abuse |
  6. Zabihullah Dustoor

    VIsiting Mr. Karzai is Permanent operation it won't effect on Aghan relation. This is only a hope to Karzai Government

    May 12, 2010 at 6:48 am | Report abuse |
  7. Mohammad Hussain Issari

    President Karzai is under the pressure in Afghanistan. His administration can't battle against corruption, fraud and bureaucracy. His administration tackles with these challenges but can't becuase he can't fire his brother from Kandahr, he can't put a way warlord from his government. President Karzia is one person and actually there are some other people who controle the government and lead president karzai. These people are those who controle Drug Traffic, Taliban and Terrorest around the asia.

    May 12, 2010 at 5:48 am | Report abuse |
  8. Robert -- Southern CA

    I don't trust Karzai and, Obama is an egotistical pretender with a gift of gab. However, I do trust Hillary, Gates, Jones, Mullen, Patraeus, McCrystal, Holbrooke, et al, to defend our homeland and protect America's interest - even while letting the president (and his Chicago cabal) think that it is they that are calling all the shots.

    May 12, 2010 at 3:55 am | Report abuse |
  9. JMC

    Ohm Shanti Manmohan Lal... let's pray the love for one GOD will help guide our leaders to a peaceful resolution in what i've gathered about Afganistan... that the heroin poppy flowers, and ultimately drug lords that run the country, of course, in partnership with the Chinese ship owners that smuggle the drugs into the American and European markets for street heroin, get the LIGHT shown on them!!! Ohm Shanti Mr. Obama and Mrs. Clinton... Ohm Shanti Brahma Vishnu Mahesh Kato Kalesh... (GOD Shall protect those who seek Peace and Love...)
    -jc

    May 12, 2010 at 3:36 am | Report abuse |
  10. Robert J Wolf

    As a practicing Islamic Karzai was raised to believe woman were subservient to men...I enjoy the fact he is having to deal with Hillary as an equal. Good strategic move for Obama

    May 12, 2010 at 2:02 am | Report abuse |
  11. Darve

    Disgusting! Obama and his incompetent administartion endorsing this corrupt Karzai and his government.

    May 12, 2010 at 12:47 am | Report abuse |
  12. Dan in Lafayette,IN

    Daniel-2, onesmallvoice or whoever you are, we are fighting these wars so the people in their countries can live in a free and democratic county where they have a say in how they want to live instead of being dictated, killed or terrorized by the rulers that were in power and if you are so lame to understand that you should live in Iran, Saudi Arabia or North Korea where you don't have the freedom to talk crap about your government! If you think that these religious fanatics are freedom fighters why don't you quit wasting your time talking down to our government and put your energy into fighting our men and women fighting these terrorists who strap on explosives to kill as many people as they can or throw acid on young girls faces because they want to learn or kill people in public to terrorize the people to submission of their ungodly ideology!

    May 11, 2010 at 10:08 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Bledsoe

    Berny,you said it all!!!

    May 11, 2010 at 8:12 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Berny

    History will repeat tself. Those who invaded Afhanistan will have to leave soon. Billions of dollars spent by USA, India, Europe will go waste. Pakistan and China will reap the benefits (its mining interests) thereafter. Russia will have a great laugh. Life will move on...USA will be looking for some other enemy as usual to keep military-industrail complex happy and alive.Alll Prez know what and why it happened to JFK

    May 11, 2010 at 7:35 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Joe

    I don't get why Karzai was rantting about forein powers (the US/UN) manipulating the elections to set-up a puppet government when he obviously won because of election fraud...Can someone clarify that?

    May 11, 2010 at 5:49 pm | Report abuse |
  16. paul

    Is this the man that was joining the insurgencey? or does cnn want us to mention that,

    May 11, 2010 at 5:25 pm | Report abuse |
  17. jaime Greer

    Karzi could move to NY and open his own little restaurant and have a nice life serving the U.S, the s*#t he serves now.

    May 11, 2010 at 5:21 pm | Report abuse |
  18. BUBBA -- ALABAMA STYLE!!!

    Can she talk without opening her mouth????

    May 11, 2010 at 4:54 pm | Report abuse |
  19. Vic

    Pseudo Annexation and Division of Af-Pak , clearing the the road to CAR'S up north are achievable goals that will only be realised if new independent countries are segmented with good goverence and elimination of fundamentalist elements in FATA/NWFP. This can only done with divsion of eastern punjabi province of Pakistan and independence of annexed pakistan northern areas of gilgit..the worst human rights violation in the history of the region

    May 11, 2010 at 4:45 pm | Report abuse |
  20. ouzo34

    Obama and Hillary should kiss his ass and ask how much money does he need to be our friend.The American tax payers wiil be happy to pay for Obamas stupidity.

    May 11, 2010 at 4:33 pm | Report abuse |
  21. Daniel-2

    There's Hamid Karzai,going to do whatever the right-wing thugs in Washington tell him to.Now that they have Afghanistan,Iraq and Pakistan in their pockets,I guess that Iran is next on their list of conquest which is already self-evident by their attemps last June to destabilize the Ahmedinejad regime by instigating huge demonstrations on the streets of Teheran.

    May 11, 2010 at 1:35 pm | Report abuse |
  22. Onesmallvoice

    Thank you,Manmohan Lal for enlightening me.Until now,I was not aware that Hindu India had such a stake in this conflict although I already knew about the hatred between the Moslims and the Hindus.I only thought it was a war of conquest between the United States,Great Britain and France for the Middle East up to now.

    May 11, 2010 at 1:18 pm | Report abuse |
  23. Manmohan Lal

    Glad to see that Indian pressure on both Karzai and US to work together and help India achieve her goals in Afghanistan is working,

    May 11, 2010 at 12:41 pm | Report abuse |