Clarifying U.S. relations with Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Regarding the Nov. 3 front-page article "Karzai is wild card for U.S. strategy":

I never said to President Hamid Karzai that we believed "a runoff would be necessary." Our position, which I outlined to him, was that the United States would be supportive of any outcome that followed the laws of Afghanistan. I said, as have many other U.S. officials, that if the vote count indicated that a runoff was called for, the international community, including the United States, would support it, but that we had no preference on that issue. In that and subsequent meetings with Mr. Karzai, I also said that if he were to be reelected, we looked forward to continuing our close cooperation with him and his government. Furthermore, I did not, and never have, spoken "harshly" to Mr. Karzai, as alleged in the article. Had The Post, contacted me, I would have made this clear.

As for my relations with President Karzai, whom I have known for more than five years, they remain cordial, correct and respectful, and I have been in direct contact with him since the election, in anticipation of my next visit to Kabul.

Richard Holbrooke, Washington

The writer is the special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan at the State Department.

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