John Kerry meets again with Afghan President Hamid Karzai

Last Updated: Tuesday, March 26, 2013 - 14:19

Kabul: US Secretary of State John Kerry met again on Tuesday with Afghan President Hamid Karzai, a day after they put on a show of unity as they tried to end recent bickering over anti-American comments made by the Afghan leader.

Kerry was also holding a series of meetings today at the American Embassy in Kabul before wrapping up his short visit.

He was meeting participants in a US-backed women`s entrepreneurship program as well as civic leaders playing a role in preparing for Afghanistan`s 2014 elections.

Earlier today, eight suicide bombers attacked a police headquarters in the eastern city of Jalalabad, killing five officers and wounding four, police said. Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid claimed responsibility for the attacks.

Kerry arrived yesterday in Kabul amid concerns that Karzai may be jeopardising progress in the war against extremism with his rhetoric. Karzai infuriated US 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.

After a private meeting, Kerry said he had asked Karzai about the comments and was very satisfied with the president`s explanation. He said the two countries were on the same page as international forces prepare to end combat operations in 2014.

At a joint news conference after his talks with Kerry, Karzai told reporters 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 US 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.

For his part, Karzai said 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.

As Kerry flew to Kabul yesterday, the US military ceded control of the Parwan detention facility near Bagram, a year after the two sides initially agreed on the transfer.

PTI



First Published: Tuesday, March 26, 2013 - 10:57

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