News / USA

Obama, Karzai Discuss Tensions, Affirm Partnership

Multimedia

Audio

After talks at the White House on Wednesday, President Barack Obama and Afghanistan's President Hamid Karzai said they are committed to a long-term strategic partnership.

Listen to Ira Mellman's interview with Nazif Sharani, a professor of Central Asian and Middle East Studies at Indiana University:

This week's visit by Afghan President Hamid Karzai and a large group of Cabinet ministers has been aimed at trying to move beyond policy and strategy differences that could weaken joint counter-terrorism efforts.

Referring to what he called "perceived" tensions, President Barack Obama said some of these tensions were over-stated, adding that both sides are committed to the goal of a secure and stable Afghanistan.

"There are going to be setbacks; there are going to be times where our governments disagree on a particular tactic," he said. "But what I am very confident about is that we share a broad strategy, one that I hope we can memorialize in a declaration by the end of this year."

Although there was no direct mention of corruption in Afghanistan - a key concern of the United States and allies - President Karzai recognized what he called "issues of concern and shortcomings" in his country.  Talks with President Obama, he said, resulted in strengthening a relationship that has endured.

"The bottom line is that we are much more strongly related to each other today than we ever were before in this relationship," said the Afghan president. "And that is a good message that I will take back to the Afghan people the day after tomorrow."

Reporters posed questions to the two leaders about the role of Pakistan, and the link between Pakistan-based Taliban and other groups and instability in Afghanistan.

President Obama said he is encouraged by what he has seen in terms cooperation from Pakistan's government, but
"It is going to take some time for Pakistan, even where there is a will, to find a way in order to effectively deal with these extremists in areas that are fairly loosely governed from Islamabad," he added.

The Mr. Obama said the security of Afghanistan and Pakistan are interrelated, adding that Afghanistan's sovereignty, territorial integrity, Constitution and people must be respected by its neighbors.

Civilian casualties

On the sensitive issue of civilian casualties in Afghanistan, both leaders said this was discussed at length, with President Karzai pointing to "considerable progress."   

Saying that an overwhelming majority of civilian casualties are a consequence of terrorist acts by the Taliban, President Obama reaffirmed his commitment to reducing such incidents.

"We have an interest in reducing civilian casualties, not because it is a problem for President Karzai, [but because] we have an interest in reducing civilian casualties because I do not want civilians killed," he said.

President Obama said he remains confident that the United States will be able to begin drawing down its armed forces in Afghanistan in July of next year.  But he emphasized that the U.S. commitment to Afghanistan will not be finished.

Saying that the capabilities of Afghanistan's army and police are "progressing steadily," President Karzai offered this prediction of how much territory Afghan forces will be able to secure.

"We plan to be conducting, providing security for our country in major parts of the country where we have the ability within the next two years," he said. "By the time my term of office completes in four years, four-and-a-half years from today, Afghanistan [will be] working hard to provide security for the whole of the country."

Reintegration of Taliban

On the question of steps underway to reintegrate Taliban, President Karzai pointed to what he called thousands of Taliban who he described as not being part of al-Qaida or other terrorist networks and who wish to return, if given the opportunity and political means.

President Obama said the United States supports efforts to open the door to Taliban who cut ties with al-Qaida, abandon violence and accept the Afghan Constitution, including respect for human rights.

At the same time, President Obama predicted there will be "hard fighting" during the next several months as U.S. forces begin a new push into Taliban areas.  But he said Afghan forces are becoming more battle ready and toughened, so they can take the lead in security operations.

You May Like

Russia's 'V-Day' Glory Over Nazis Overshadowed by Ukraine

Critics say Soviet-style display of power, nationalism don't recognize tragic scars of warfare that still influence politics, fighting in Ukraine More

Tensions Simmer in Hong Kong in Lead Up to Vote

Many Hong Kong citizen say if the reform plan will be a step back for the pro-democracy movement if passed More

Multimedia Obama Calls for New Commitment to Help Minority Youths Succeed

President introduces My Brother’s Keeper Alliance, foundation supporting better education and job prospects More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Campaign Raises Money to 'Uncuff' Journalistsi
X
May 04, 2015 3:32 PM
Beginning Sunday – World Press Freedom Day – the Committee to Protect Journalists, a private U.S. group, is launching a campaign to bring attention to their plight and encourage efforts to free them. Deborah Block reports.
Video

Video Campaign Raises Money to 'Uncuff' Journalists

Beginning Sunday – World Press Freedom Day – the Committee to Protect Journalists, a private U.S. group, is launching a campaign to bring attention to their plight and encourage efforts to free them. Deborah Block reports.
Video

Video Volunteers Pull Together to Aid Baltimore Riot Victims

Calm has returned to Baltimore, Maryland, after authorities lifted an overnight curfew imposed almost a week ago to stem the rioting that followed the funeral of Freddie Gray - the 25-year-old black man who died of spinal injuries suffered while in police custody. Six police officers, three of them African-American, have been charged in connection with his death. Baltimore is now trying to get back to normal, in part with the help of volunteers who responded to calls to help those in the city'
Video

Video From Aleppo To Berlin: Band of Brothers Escapes Civil War

Hundreds of thousands of Syrians have fled the civil war in their country and journeyed to Europe by boat across the Mediterranean. It is a terrifying ordeal with dangers at every turn. A group of Syrian brothers and their friends describe their ordeal as they try to reach Germany. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports. ...
Video

Video Rural Nepal Suffers Brunt of Quake’s Devastation

Nepal is still coming to grips with the full extent of the devastation and misery caused by last Saturday’s magnitude 7.8 earthquake. Some of the hardest-hit communities have been cut off by landslides making it difficult to assess the precise toll. A VOA News crew has been among the first to reach a few of the smaller, remote communities. Correspondent Steve Herman reports from the Sindhupolchak district, east of Kathmandu, which suffered greatly in Nepal’s worst quake in more than 80 years.
Video

Video Obama Praises Work of 3 Immigrant Journalists

President Barack Obama met with three immigrant journalists at the White House Friday to praise them for their work ahead of World Press Freedom Day, May 3. In attendance: Dieu Cay (his pen name) a blogger from Vietnam recently released from prison; Lily Mengesha from Ethiopia who was harassed and detained for exposing the marrying off of young girls as child brides, and Fatima Tlisova, an ethnic Circassian from the North Caucasus region of Russia, who works for VOA's Russian Service.
Video

Video Middle East Atheist Channel Defies Taboo

In Egypt, a deeply religious country in a deeply religious region, atheism is not only taboo, it is dangerous. It is sometimes even criminal to publicly declare nonbelief. Despite the danger, one group of activists is pushing back with a new online channel that defends the right not to believe. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.
Video

Video Black Families Use Baltimore Case to Revisit 'Police Talk'

Following Freddie Gray’s death in police custody this month, VOA interviewed black families throughout the eastern U.S. city of Baltimore about how they discuss the case. Over and over, parents pointed to a crucial talk they say every black mother or father has with their children. Victoria Macchi has more on how this conversation is passed down through generations.
Video

Video Nepal Quake Survivors Tell Their Stories

Against all hope, rescuers have found a few more survivors of the devastating earthquake that hit Nepal last Saturday. Mountain climbers and hikers trapped in remote places also have been airlifted to safety, and aid is finally reaching people in the areas closest to the quake's epicenter. Survivors and rescuers are now recounting their experience. Zlatica Hoke has this story.
Video

Video Lessons for Germany, Europe Remain on Anniversary of WWII's End

The 70th anniversary of the end of World War II will be marked May 8-9 in all European countries except Germany, which lost the war. How is the war viewed there, and what impact is it still having? From Berlin, VOA’s Al Pessin reports.
Video

Video Nepal Town Destroyed By Quake Counts Itself Lucky

Foreign search teams on Wednesday began reaching some of the communities outside Kathmandu that suffered worse damage than Nepal’s capital from last Saturday’s massive earthquake. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman is in Sankhu - a town of about 10,000 people - where there is relief the death toll is not higher despite widespread destruction.
Video

Video First Surgical Glue Approved for Use Inside Body

While medical adhesives are becoming more common, none had been approved for use inside the body until now. Earlier this year, the first ever biodegradable surgical glue won that approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports on the innovation and its journey from academia to market.
Video

Video Somali Hotel Chain Owner Strives to Make a Difference

Many in the Somali diaspora are returning home to make a new life despite the continuing risks. Since 2011 when a military campaign against Al-Shabab militants began making progress, members of the diaspora community have come back to open hospitals, schools, hotels, restaurants and other businesses. Abdulaziz Billow in Mogadishu profiles the owner of a chain of hotels and restaurants who is helping to bring change to the once-deadly Somali capital.
Video

Video Study: One in Six Species Threatened with Extinction

Climate change is transforming the planet. Unless steps are taken to reduce global warming, scientists predict rising seas, stronger and more frequent storms, drought, fire and floods. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, a new study on species extinction underscores the need to take action to avoid the most catastrophic effects of rising temperatures.
Video

Video Child Migrants Cross Mediterranean Alone, Face Unknown Future

Among the thousands of migrants making the deadly journey by boat to Europe, there are unaccompanied girls and boys. Some have been sent by relatives to earn money; others are orphaned or fleeing war. From a shelter for young migrants in the Sicilian town of Caltagirone, VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Baltimore Riots Shed Light on City’s Troubled Past

National Guard troops took up positions Tuesday in Baltimore, Maryland, as authorities tried to restore order after rioting broke out a day earlier. It followed Monday's funeral of a 25-year-old black man who died while in police custody earlier this month. VOA's Chris Simkins reports.

Poll: Baltimore Police Charged

Poll archive

VOA Blogs