Kerry, Karzai play nice; Afghan leader says remarks misinterpreted
KABUL — Eager to overcome a bout of bickering, Secretary of State John Kerry and Afghan President Hamid Karzai made a show of unusual unity between their nations on Monday. The friendly display occurred as the U.S. military ceded control of its last detention facility in Afghanistan, ending a longstanding irritant in relations.
Kerry arrived in the Afghan capital of Kabul on an unannounced visit amid concerns that Karzai may be jeopardizing progress in the war against extremism with anti-American rhetoric. After a private meeting, Kerry said he and Karzai were “on the same page” on security and reconciliation issues and brushed aside suggestions that relations were in peril.
Karzai infuriated U.S. officials earlier this month by accusing Washington of colluding with Taliban insurgents to keep Afghanistan weak even as the Obama administration pressed ahead with plans to hand off security responsibility to Afghan forces and end NATO's combat mission by the end of next year.
At a joint news conference after their talks, Karzai told reporters that his comments in a nationally televised speech had been misinterpreted by the media. Kerry demurred on that point but said people sometimes say things in public that reflect ideas they have heard from others but don't necessarily agree with.
“I am confident the president (Karzai) does not believe the U.S. has any interest except to see the Taliban come to the table to make peace and that we are completely cooperative with the government of Afghanistan with respect to the protection of their efforts and their people,” Kerry said. He noted that he had specifically raised the comment in question with Karzai and was satisfied with the response.
“We're on the same page,” Kerry said. “I don't think there is any disagreement between us, and I am very, very comfortable with the president's explanation.”
For his part, Karzai said that he had been trying to make the point in his speech that if the Taliban really wanted foreign troops out of Afghanistan they should stop killing people.
In the March 9 speech, he berated the Taliban for deadly bombings in Kabul and the city of Khost that he said “showed that they are at the service of America and at the service of this phrase: 2014,” — the withdrawal date set for most international forces.
Karzai suggested in the speech that the U.S. and the Taliban were working together “trying to frighten us into thinking that if the foreigners are not in Afghanistan, we would be facing these sorts of incidents.”
Standing beside Kerry, Karzai said “today was a very good day,” citing the turnover of the detention facility at the U.S.-run Bagram military base north of Kabul. He expressed gratitude for the sacrifices made for his country by Americans.
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.
- Russian President Putin’s daughter has hand in development of $1.6B science center
- Upcoming speech to Congress stirs backlash in Israel
- Ukraine peace talks collapse
- Islamic State admits defeat in Syria
- Thousands of troops to fight Boko Haram terrorists in Nigeria, African Union says
- Iraqi libraries ransacked
- Mexico slashes public spending amid global oil price plunge