Relations between Afghan leader Hamid Karzai and the United States have had their ups and downs since last summer’s elections in Afghanistan. Here are a few of them:
• In October 2009, charges of fraud in the election caused the U.S. to criticize Karzai and push him for a recount and better leadership.
• Karzai is criticized for failing to deliver on campaign promises and that he tried to hijack the election complaints commission.
• Sen. John Kerry travels to Afghanistan in October 2009 to press for a recount as he urges the Obama administration to hold off on a troop increase until the election deadlock is settled. (More: Kerry on the election crisis | Karzai challenger quits)
• U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton travels to Afghanistan for Karzai’s inaugural address in November. In his speech, Karzai promises to tackle corruption. (More: Clinton pleased with Karzai's promises)
As U.S. and NATO troops gear up toward a major offensive this summer in the southern Kandahar province, Washington's strategy in Afghanistan hinges more than ever on presenting a credible alternative to the Taliban.
So this latest, not-so-subtle attempt to kiss and make up, to move beyond bitter recriminations and resentments and present a united front would be encouraging, if only the sentiment behind it were true.
President Obama said Wednesday he is "confident" his administration will meet its self-imposed deadline to start a U.S. troop withdrawal from Afghanistan in July 2011. "We are not suddenly, as of July 2011, finished with Afghanistan," he said after a meeting with Afghan President Hamid Karzai. "This is a long-term partnership."
Obama welcomed Karzai to the White House on Wednesday for a second day of a series of high-level discussions regarding the U.S. mission in Afghanistan. Karzai huddled on Tuesday with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Karzai also will meet with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and other House leaders later in the day.
Below are some highlights from their news conference on Wednesday:
Obama 'confident' U.S. can start withdrawing troops in July 2011
Obama said Wednesday he is "confident" his administration will meet its self-imposed deadline to start a U.S. troop withdrawal from Afghanistan in July of 2011.
But there's "going to be some hard fighting" over the next few months, he warned. Taliban and other extremist forces are "tough," he said.
He also stressed that the U.S. campaign in Afghanistan will continue long after the deadline.
"We are not suddenly, as of July 2011, finished with Afghanistan," he said during a meeting with Afghan President Hamid Karzai at the White House. "This is a long-term partnership."
Obama reaffirms U.S. partnership with Afghan government
Obama said that the United States is committed to a "stable, strong, and prosperous" Afghanistan. He said there is "no denying the progress that the Afghan people have made in recent years," but also said the country still faces major challenges, including "a brutal insurgency." FULL POST