Efforts in works to ease Afghan leader's concerns, top U.S. commander says
KABUL, Afghanistan — The top U.S. military chief in Afghanistan said on Monday that his team is working as fast as possible to resolve issues that have infuriated Afghan President Hamid Karzai, including the delay in handing over a U.S.-run detention center and the withdrawal of American special forces from a troubled province neighboring Kabul.
The efforts illustrate the growing tensions between the commander, Gen. Joseph Dunford, and an Afghan ally who is struggling to break free from international influence and establish independence after more than a decade of relying on a foreign military force for security.
The latest stumbling blocks in the relationship have delayed a round of talks on a pivotal U.S.-Afghan security agreement to govern the American troops expected to stay past 2014, when the NATO-led coalition will end its combat mission. Talks on the unfinished pact were supposed to take place in Kabul last week.
“We're working issues with a sense of urgency,” Dunford told The Associated Press in his first one-on-one interview since he took command. “But the issues are complex, and they're fundamental ... so you have to get it right.”
Speaking in his office in the capital, Kabul, Dunford would not say when the detention center would be handed over.
Dunford is trying to address a series of increasingly strident decrees that Karzai has laid down since Dunford took charge five weeks ago. It started just days after he arrived, when Karzai insisted that the coalition cease all airstrikes as a result of a NATO airstrike that caused civilian casualties. More recently, Karzai has demanded that U.S. special operations forces leave Wardak province, alleging that U.S. commandos and their Afghan partners abused local citizens — a charge Dunford denies.
Karzai has kept up a steady stream of invective in public remarks, even accusing the United States of working with the Taliban to keep the country unstable, as an excuse to stay longer. That spurred anger on Capitol Hill.
“What to do about President Karzai? Isn't he making success more problematic? He sure is,” said Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin, a Democrat from Michigan, in a speech to the Council on Foreign Relations. “Karzai's absurd remarks weaken the support of the American people ... and they raise doubts in many if not most American minds about the wisdom of a long-term strategic relationship with Afghanistan, with all of its costs and risks.”
Last week, Dunford warned his commanders to raise their security levels, saying Karzai's comments could stir more anti-American sentiment and spur more insider attacks.
But he has remained studiously polite in public, seeking to use face-to-face meetings with Karzai to ease tension and temper Karzai's angry demands for change.
Dunford, a Marine Corps general with a master's degree in government from Georgetown University and one in international relations from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, said it's simply a matter of “working the issues.”
“In all honesty, it hasn't been that contentious on a personal level,” Dunford said.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Putin’s stance on Ukraine is bad for business, Russian billionaires say
- Rebels in Ukraine hand over bodies, black box
- Chinese lunar rover not dead yet
- China’s role in Afghanistan called mainly commercial
- Israeli death toll climbs to 25 in Gaza ground offensive
- ‘Explosion of evil’ in Europe against Jews condemned
- Train with Ukraine plane crash bodies leaves rebel town
- Flights disrupted in Shanghai, fueling speculation
- Philippine leader hit with impeachment complaint over stimulus plan
- Ukraine: Pro-Russia rebels downed Malaysian plane
- Suicide bomber strikes in Afghan town market, killing at least 89