White House Reaches Out to Karzai

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

The Obama administration welcomed Afghan President Hamid Karzai to Washington on Monday, in an attempt to smooth over past differences.

Although the White House has criticized Karzai as an ineffective leader in the past, it is now reaching out to the politician who is crucial to U.S. exit from Afghanistan.

At a White House press conference on Monday, U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan Karl Eikenberry said that the topic of reconciliation “will be high on this week’s agenda.”

Karzai is seeking U.S. backing for negotiations in a “peace jirga”, a conciliatory meeting, with Taliban leaders who were in power at the time of the September 11 attacks, but who are considered essential for a peace deal. The Obama administration wants to set a high bar for the ranking insurgents to be included in the talks.

“Historically, I think the most important thing is that we first get an Afghan solution, crafted by Afghans, and, second, that it be inclusive and it feel fair to everyone," top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, General Stanley McChrystal told reporters. 

The four-day mission in the capital is the widest engagement with U.S. leaders since Karzai’s re-election last year. During his last U.S. visit, prior to the elections, the White House sidelined Karzai in an attempt to put more pressure on the leader to fight corruption in his war-torn country.

For more WQXR coverage on this story, click here.

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