Karzai arrives Monday for four-day Washington visit

Karzai arrives Monday for four-day Washington visit
# 08 May 2010 03:59 (UTC +04:00)
Baku – APA. The United States will next week seek to ease public spats with President Hamid Karzai, but also imply that its alliance with Afghanistan is not solely defined by its volatile relationship with him, APA reports quoting AFP.
President Barack Obama will welcome Karzai to the White House on Wednesday, the highpoint of the visit, which represents an apparent effort by both sides to overcome an embarrassing public row last month.
But the Afghan leader will also bring a large delegation that will get a red carpet welcome at US government departments -- in another sign Washington is wary of placing its substantial bet in Afghanistan on Karzai alone.
"One of the things that we wanted to underscore with this visit was again the development of a very broad strategic partnership," said Ben Rhodes, Obama’s deputy national security advisor for strategic communications.
"The cooperation that we have with the Afghans extends to many different sectors."
"We really are developing in Afghanistan a very deep set of collaborations with Afghan ministers, as well as at the more subnational and local level, too."
Karzai will arrive in Washington on Monday, and will hold in-depth talks at the State Department with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton the next day.
He will spend more than three hours with Obama at the White House on Wednesday -- an unusually large allocation of time for Obama and a foreign leader.
The White House said the two leaders would hold Oval Office talks, have a joint press conference and then lunch. On Thursday, Karzai will visit Arlington Cemetery, where some of the US dead from the Afghan war are buried.
The Obama administration has made no secret of its frustration with Karzai, over his record of governance and tackling corruption, though officials briefing reporters Friday appeared to be keen to stress some areas of success.
US officials made clear when the Obama made a surprise visit to Afghanistan in that they were unhappy with Karzai’s performance since he started his second term in November.
Karzai seemed irked by US criticisms, and after the US president left, fired off a series of outbursts, accusing foreign nations of orchestrated corruption in presidential elections, which were angrily dismissed by Washington.
At one stage, it even seemed that Karzai’s planned May 12 visit could be in doubt.
Douglas Lute, the US president’s special assistant for Afghanistan and Pakistan said Friday that a partnership such as that between the United States and Afghanistan was bound to have "ups and downs."
"But the difference between a mere relationship and a partnership, like the one that we’re talking about here, is that partnerships endure the ups and downs and continue to press forward towards the common goals."
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