US assures not to abandon Afghanistan post 2012

Terming rpts of a rift between US and Kabul as "overstated", Obama has moved to mend fences with Karzai.

Updated: May 13, 2010, 20:38 PM IST

Washington: Terming reports of a rift
between Washington and Kabul as "overstated", US President
Barack Obama has moved to mend fences with his Afghan
counterpart Hamid Karzai stating that America will not cut out
and run from the war-torn nation.

In a conciliatory move, Obama also voiced support for
Karzai`s efforts to woo wavering Taliban militants, but only
if they renounce al Qaeda and violence.

This marked the first reaction of the US to Karzai`s
moves to bring back moderate Taliban to the mainstream as well
as try to send some elements outside Afghanistan.

Reassuring Karzai that US will not abandon Afghanistan
after its proposed troop withdrawal next year, Obama gave the
Afghan President an effusive welcome at the White House saying
that the two nations shared a common objective of eliminating

Obama`s remarks were apparently aimed at ending months
of sniping between Washington and Kabul and Karzai on his part
said that frankness would only contribute to strengthening
relations between the two countries.

"There are moments when we speak frankly to each
other, and that frankness will only contribute to the strength
of the relationship," the Afghan President said at the joint
White House press conference.

Referring to situation in Afghanistan, Obama said,
"The war will get worse, before its gets better", adding that
the next few months would see more intensified fighting, in an
apparent reference to the upcoming major offensive in the
Kandahar province, the birth place of Taliban.

To complaints of Karzai that US and NATO forces air
strikes were killing innocents and making enemies of those who
might be friends, the US President said "Washington has taken
extraordinary measures to avoid civilian deaths in the war."

"I do not want civilians killed," Obama said.
President Obama and Karzai agreed to sign a new
US-Afghanistan Strategic Partnership Declaration by the end of
the year that would replace the existing of that of 2005.

Earlier at a joint White House press availability,
with Karzai, Obama said there are going to be tensions in such
a complicated, difficult environment and in a situation in
which, on the ground, both Afghans and Americans are making
enormous sacrifices.

"We`ve had very frank discussions. And President
Karzai agrees with me, that we can`t win through a military
strategy alone; that we`re going to have to make sure that we
have effective governance, capacity-building, economic
development in order for us to succeed," he said.

"Our job is to be a good friend and to be frank with
President Karzai in saying, "Here`s where we think we`ve got
to put more effort.

Noting that the US-Afghan relationship is real and not
imaginary, Karzai said: "It`s based on some very hard and
difficult realities. We are in a campaign against terrorism
together. There are days that we are happy. There are days
that we are not happy. It`s a mutual relationship toward a
common objective."

Acknowledging that there have been days when the two
countries have had a difference of opinion, he said that would
continue to remain in the future.

"But the relationship between the two governments and
the two nations is strong and well-rooted, and has endured the
past 10 years of extreme activity on both sides," he said.

"So I believe what you saw in the past few months is
reflective of a deep and strong relationship."

A joint statement issued by the two leaders said, "The
strengthened Strategic Partnership Declaration is expected to:
reiterate the United States` and Afghanistan`s shared vision
and commitment to Afghanistan`s future; clarify how
Afghanistan plans to increasingly take on responsibility for
its own security, justice, and development."

The partnership declaration will also articulate how
the United States plans to work with Afghanistan to enhance
its ability to contribute to regional stability and

Bureau Report