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US, Karzai seek to mend fraying relationship at summit

Washington has been increasingly critical of the Afghan president. But with Karzai likely to win reelection this year, both sides will want to dial back the recriminations.

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Afghan President Hamid Karzai arrived in Washington Tuesday acknowledging recent "tense moments" in US-Afghan relations, but asserting that America's continued close relationship with his country will be at the core of success against extremism.

Mr. Karzai, who has presided over Afghanistan since 2002, is in Washington for a trilateral summit called by President Obama that will include Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari. The summit, set for Wednesday and Thursday, is meant to underscore the Obama administration's conclusion in its policy review that Pakistan is inextricably linked to the Afghan struggle with extremist forces in the Taliban and must be part of any strategy for the war in Afghanistan.

The Obama strategy for Afghanistan will result in more American troops on the ground and what Karzai called a "civilian surge" of development efforts. The strategy is "a good step in the right direction, but it must be very carefully applied," Karzai said Tuesday in a speech at the Brookings Institution in Washington.

Karzai's cautionary note reflects the frustration and resentment he has expressed publicly over mounting civilian casualties resulting from US military operations. That frustration has been matched by US doubts over Karzai's leadership capacity and ability to tackle rampant government corruption.


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