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Obama Discusses New Afghan Strategy with Karzai Before Announcement

  • Sean Maroney

U.S. President Barack Obama spoke with Afghan President Hamid Karzai regarding the new U.S. strategy for Afghanistan early Tuesday via video conference.

U.S. President Barack Obama spoke with Afghan President Hamid Karzai regarding the new U.S. strategy for Afghanistan early Tuesday via video conference. President Obama is to unveil his strategy within hours.

A spokesman for Afghan President Hamid Karzai tells VOA the hour-long discussion between the Afghan leader and U.S. President Barack Obama was friendly.

"They talked about the new strategy, including security, military and economic issues," he said.

Mr. Obama is scheduled to announce his new strategy during a speech later at the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York.

In the past few days, President Obama has held a series of telephone calls with U.S. allies to discuss his new strategy. He is expected to send between 30,000 and 35,000 additional U.S. troops to Afghanistan.

White House officials also have said a major goal will be to train Afghan forces so they can assume control of areas currently overseen by foreign troops. This has been the deadliest year for foreign troops in Afghanistan since the U.S.-led invasion toppled the Taliban government eight years ago.

But for the plan to succeed, administration officials stress the United States needs a reliable partner in Kabul.

Afghan parliament member Daud Sultanzoi says he is surprised Mr. Obama is announcing his new strategy before President Karzai announces his new government.

"In my opinion, the Cabinet composition should have been a key litmus test for Mr. Obama," Sultanzoi said.

Sultanzoi says he believes it will be hard for the United States to hold a new Afghan government accountable when it technically does not yet exist.

Mr. Karzai was elected to a new term in November, after months of political uncertainty and a canceled presidential runoff.

The first round of voting on August 20 was marred by widespread fraud, which mostly benefited Mr. Karzai. His main challenger, former foreign minister Abdullah Abdullah, withdrew from the runoff scheduled for early November because he said he did not think a new vote would be fair.

Also, the problem of government corruption has reduced faith in the government in Afghanistan since Mr. Karzai first took office in early 2002. Last month, Transparency International released a poll that showed Afghanistan is now perceived to be the second-most corrupt country in the world, behind Somalia.

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