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Obama, Karzai Shake Hands in Reconciliation

Posted May. 14, 2010 11:57,   


Afghan President Hamid Karzai held an hour-long summit with U.S. President Barack Obama Wednesday at the White House.

Afterwards, the two leaders held a joint news conference and shook hands to clear the enmity and bitter feelings they apparently had toward each other over the past three months.

Obama visited Afghanistan in March and criticized the Afghan government’s corruption and incapability in front of Karzai. Last month, the Afghan leader suggested he might join the Taliban instead of bowing to foreign pressure to reform his government.

This time, however, Karzai wore a warm smile and repeatedly said “Thank you” for U.S. assistance.

On the alleged tension between Washington and Kabul, Obama said, “A lot of them were simply overstated,” adding, “This summit is a reaffirmation of the friendship between the American people and the Afghan people.”

Obama also said he and Karzai, as partners in waging the war on terrorism, grew more confident in the success of Afghanistan’s stabilization.

Karzai thanked Obama for adding considerable resources to the success of his country. Apparently referring to his alleged corruption, Karzai said, “I can reassure you that we will work with dedication and extreme care to have those resources spent well.”

On his meeting with wounded soldiers who returned from Afghanistan after a meeting with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Karzai said, “It was heart rendering.”

On this dramatic reconciliation between the two leaders, The New York Times said in an editorial, “The two men painted a sunny, improbable picture of cooperation and mutual respect.”

The Washington Post said Obama’s reconciliatory gesture is part of the U.S. effort to find an exit strategy from the nine-year war in Afghanistan.

Washington and its allies, which launched massive combat operations against the Taliban in the southern Afghan province of Helmand, are preparing an offensive in Kandahar, the stronghold of the Taliban.

The U.S. is preparing for its final war against the Taliban by deploying 30,000 troops to the war-torn country. The success of U.S. military operations in Kandahar will be a decisive factor in determining whether the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan can begin in July next year.