News / USA

Obama, Karzai Discuss Tensions, Affirm Partnership



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

Multimedia Brussels Schools, Metro Reopen Under Heavy Guard

City remains under the highest threat alert level due to what authorities have described as a 'serious and imminent' threat of attack

Video Debt-ridden Refugees Await Onslaught of Lebanese Winter

Aid agencies are attempting to reduce potentially devastating consequences of freezing conditions and snowstorms that killed eight last year, including three Syrian refugees

Americans Think About Strange Stuff at Thanksgiving

Millions of Americans are celebrating Thanksgiving, but they’re not necessarily thinking about turkey and stuffing

This forum has been closed.
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.
After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against ISi
November 24, 2015 3:04 AM
The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against IS

The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video US, Cambodian Navies Pair Up in Gulf of Thailand

The U.S. Navy has deployed one of its newest and most advanced ships to Cambodia to conduct joint training drills in the Gulf of Thailand. Riding hull-to-hull with Cambodian ships, the seamen of the USS Fort Worth are executing joint-training drills that will help build relations in Southeast Asia. David Boyle reports for VOA from Preah Sihanouk province.

Video Americans Sharpen Focus on Terrorism

Washington will be quieter than usual this week due to the Thanksgiving holiday, even as Americans across the nation register heightened concerns over possible terrorist threats. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports new polling data from ABC News and the Washington Post newspaper show an electorate increasingly focused on security issues after the deadly Islamic State attacks in Paris.

Video World Leaders Head to Paris for Climate Deal

Heads of state from nearly 80 countries are heading to Paris (November 30-December 11) to craft a global climate change agreement. The new accord will replace the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change that expired in 2012.

Video Uncertain Future for Syrian Refugee Resettlement in Illinois

For the trickle of Syrian refugees finding new homes in the Midwest city of Chicago, the call to end resettlement in many U.S. states is adding another dimension to their long journey fleeing war. Organizations working to help them integrate say the backlash since the Paris attacks is both harming and helping their efforts to provide refugees sanctuary. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

Video Creating Physical Virtual Reality With Tiny Drones

As many computer gamers know, virtual reality is a three-dimensional picture, projected inside special googles. It can fool your brain into thinking the computer world is the real world. But If you try to touch it, it’s not there. Now Canadian researchers say it may be possible to create a physical virtual reality using tiny drones. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video New American Indian Village Takes Visitors Back in Time

There is precious little opportunity to experience what life was like in the United States before its colonization by European settlers. Now, an American Indian village built in a park outside Washington is taking visitors back in time to experience the way of life of America's indigenous people. Carol Pearson narrates this report from VOA's June Soh.

Video Even With Hometown Liberated, Yazidi Refugees Fear Return

While the northern Iraqi town of Sinjar has been liberated from Islamic State forces, it's not clear whether Yazidi residents who fled the militants will now return home. VOA’s Mahmut Bozarslan talked with Yazidis, a religious and ethnic minority, at a Turkish refugee camp in Diyarbakır. Robert Raffaele narrates his report.

Video Nairobi Tailors Make Pope Francis’ Vestments

To ensure the pope is properly attired during his visit, the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops asked the Dolly Craft Sewing Project in the Nairobi slum of Kangemi to make the pope's vestments, the garments he will wear during the various ceremonies. Jill Craig reports.

Video Cross-Border Terrorism Puts Europe’s Passport-Free Travel in Doubt

The fallout from the Islamic State terror attacks in Paris has put the future of Europe’s passport-free travel area, known as the "Schengen Zone," in doubt. Several of the perpetrators were known to intelligence agencies, but were not intercepted. Henry Ridgwell reports from London European ministers are to hold an emergency meeting Friday in Brussels to look at ways of improving security.

Video El Niño Brings Unexpected Fish From Mexico to California

Fish in an unexpected spectrum of sizes, shapes and colors are moving north, through El Niño's warm currents from Mexican waters to the Pacific Ocean off California’s coast. El Nino is the periodic warming of the eastern and central Pacific Ocean. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this phenomenon thrills scientists and gives anglers the chance of a once-in-a-lifetime big catch. Faith Lapidus narrates.

Video Terrorism in Many Forms Continues to Plague Africa

While the world's attention is on Paris in the wake of Friday night's deadly attacks, terrorism from various sides remains a looming threat in many African countries. Nigerian cities have been targeted this week by attacks many believe were staged by the violent Islamist group Boko Haram. In addition, residents in many regions are forced to flee their homes as they are terrorized by armed militias. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Study: Underage Marriage Rate Higher for Females in Pakistan

While attitudes about the societal role of females in Pakistan are evolving, research by child advocacy group Plan International suggests that underage marriage of girls remains a particularly big issue in the country. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports how such marriages leads to further social problems.

VOA Blogs