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U.S. envoy says relations with Afghan President Hamid Karzai are good

Troops in Caracas shout slogans during a parade Monday at which Venezuela marked the bicentennial of its independence. President Hugo Chávez kicked off a national celebration Sunday, but critics used the commemoration to accuse him of turning the nation into a Cuban-style dictatorship.
Troops in Caracas shout slogans during a parade Monday at which Venezuela marked the bicentennial of its independence. President Hugo Chávez kicked off a national celebration Sunday, but critics used the commemoration to accuse him of turning the nation into a Cuban-style dictatorship. (Ariana Cubillos/associated Press)

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Tuesday, April 20, 2010

AFGHANISTAN

U.S. says relations with Karzai are good

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, the U.S. 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 called off because of U.S. concerns about government corruption in Afghanistan, a subject raised by President Obama during his recent visit to the country. 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.

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.

-- Karen DeYoung

RUSSIA

Kremlin keeps U.S. adoptions frozen

All Russian adoptions for parents in the United States will remain suspended until a new agreement is negotiated, which could take up to two months, the children's rights ombudsman at the Kremlin said Monday.

Russia froze U.S. adoptions last week after a boy was put on a plane back to Russia by his adoptive mother in Tennessee. The woman said she "no longer wishes to parent" the boy, who had just turned 8.


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