"I think that President Karzai is capable of leading his country into the 21st century and stabilizing it," President Obama told Australian TV in a recorded interview from Washington broadcast on Thursday. "But what we have said is that we can't succeed unless President Karzai moves forward on the reforms that are so necessary for Afghans to see a real investment in their lives day-to-day and improvement in their lives day-to-day."
"We think it's necessary for the world's security that we dismantle al Qaeda and its affiliate networks, and we need a strong partner in that process. I think Karzai has the capacity to be that strong partner," said Obama. "I do think that what we have seen is a blunting of the momentum of the Taliban, which had been building up in the year prior to me taking office."
He reiterated his plan to begin drawing down U.S. troops in 2011 and handing responsibility for security to domestic forces in Afghanistan. "We can't be there in perpetuity," he said.
Earlier this month, Karzai and the White House played down their political differences, rejecting reports of a major dispute between the Obama administration and Karzai.