Obama administration says conflict with Karzai is resolved
Monday, April 19, 2010; 7:17 PM
The Obama administration declared its problems with Afghan President Hamid Karzai to be a thing of the past on Monday, announcing that Karzai will visit Washington on May 10-14 for meetings at the White House and with the administration's top national security officials.
"There was a period where the waters got roiled a little bit," Richard C. Holbrooke, special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, said in a State Department briefing, adding that relations are now "in good shape."
Administration officials had earlier suggested that the visit might be off because of U.S. concern about Afghan government corruption, a subject raised by President Obama during his recent visit to Kabul. Karzai responded with public criticism of what he called foreign interference.
Corruption remains an issue but Karzai is "working on it," Holbrooke said. Reports of friction between him and the Afghan leader were overblown, Holbrooke added, and his two-hour visit with Karzai last week in Kabul was "the longest, most sustained and most focused" of five meetings this year alone.
An Afghan "peace jirga" with political and tribal representatives -- possibly including insurgent leaders -- that Karzai had set for early next month has been postponed until May 20, following the U.S. visit, Holbrooke said.