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

    Video Rubio Looks to Surge in New Hampshire

    Republican presidential candidate has moved into second place in several recent surveys and appears to be gaining ground on longtime frontrunner Donald Trump

    UN Calls for Global Ban on Female Genital Mutilation

    Recent UNICEF report finds at least 200 million girls and women alive today have undergone female genital mutilation in 30 countries

    UN Pilots New Peace Approach in CAR

    Approach launched in northern town of Kaga Bandoro, where former combatants of mainly Muslim Seleka armed group and Christian and animist anti-Balaka movement are being paid to do community work

    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.
    German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibiti
    X
    Hamada Elsaram
    February 05, 2016 4:30 PM
    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video Former Drug CEO Martin Shkreli Angers US Lawmakers

    A former U.S. pharmaceutical business executive has angered lawmakers by refusing to explain why he raised the price of a life-saving pill by 5,000 percent. Martin Shkreli was removed from a congressional hearing on Thursday after citing his Fifth Amendment right to stay silent. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Super Bowl TV Commercials are Super Business for Advertisers

    The Super Bowl, the championship clash between the two top teams in American Football, is the most-watched sporting event of the year, and advertisers are lining up and paying big bucks to get their commercials on the air. In fact, the TV commercials during the Super Bowl have become one of the most anticipated and popular features of the event. VOA's Brian Allen has a sneak peek of what you can expect to see when the big game goes to commercial break, and the real entertainment begins.
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.
    Video

    Video Microcephaly's Connection to Zika: Guilty Until Proven Innocent

    The Zika virus rarely causes problems for the people who get it, but it seems to be having a devastating impact on babies whose mothers are infected with Zika. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
    Video

    Video Solar Innovation Provides Cheap, Clean Energy to Kenya Residents

    In Kenya, a company called M-Kopa Solar is providing clean energy to more than 300,000 homes across East Africa by allowing customers to "pay-as-you-go" via their cell phones. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from Kangemi, customers pay a small deposit for a solar unit and then pay less than a dollar a day to get clean energy to light up their homes or businesses.
    Video

    Video Stunning Artworks Attract Record Crowds, Thanks to Social Media

    A new exhibit at the oldest art museum in America is shattering attendance records. Thousands of visitors are lining up to see nine giant works of art that have gotten a much-deserved shot of viral marketing. The 150-year-old Smithsonian American Art Museum has never had a response quite like this. VOA's Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Apprenticeships Put Americans on Path Back to Work

    Trying to get more people into the U.S. workforce, the Obama administration last year announced $175 million in grants towards apprenticeship programs. VOA White House correspondent Aru Pande went inside one training center outside of Washington that has gained national recognition for helping put people on the path to employment.
    Video

    Video New Material May Reduce Concussion Effects

    As the 2016 National Football League season reaches its summit at the Super Bowl this coming Sunday (2/7), scientists are trying to learn how to more effectively protect football players from dangerous and damaging concussions. Researchers at Cardiff and Cambridge Universities say their origami-based material may solve the problem. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Saudi Arabian Women's Sports Chip Away at Stereotypes

    Saudi Arabian female athletes say that sports are on the front line of busting traditions that quash women’s voices, both locally and internationally. In their hometown of Jeddah, a group of basketball players say that by connecting sports to health issues, they are encouraging women and girls to get out of their homes and participate in public life. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.
    Video

    Video A Year Later, Fortunes Mixed for Syrians Forging New Lives in Berlin

    In April of last year, VOA followed the progress of six young Syrian refugees -- four brothers and their two friends -- as they made their way from Libya to Italy by boat, and eventually to Germany. Reporter Henry Ridgwell caught up with the refugees again in Berlin, as they struggle to forge new lives amid the turmoil of Europe's refugee crisis.
    Video

    Video Zika Virus May be Hard to Stop

    With the Zika virus spreading rapidly, the World Health Organization Monday declared Zika a global health emergency. As Alberto Pimienta reports, for many governments and experts, the worst is yet to come.