US trusts Karzai: Clinton
WASHINGTON (PAN): The Obama Administration has full faith in Afghan President Hamid Karzai, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Tuesday.
“President Karzai made a very important statement just this past week. He is not seeking a third term, which is a very strong signal that there has to be an active, dynamic political process to choose his successor,” Clinton said in a joint public appearance with Defense Secretary Leon Panetta at the National Defense University.
Asked, “You trust Karzai?” Clinton responded, “Yes.” She said that the Karzai government was committed to the transition process.
“Remember, when we adopted this process that will go through 2014 at the NATO Lisbon summit, it was in concert with the Karzai government making the same commitment. Now, we're also discussing what kind of ongoing partnership -- diplomatic, development, military -- that we will have with Afghanistan,” she said.
“I dealt with him as a senator, and I have dealt with him as a secretary of state. You have to listen to him, because all too often, we come in with our preconceptions about how things are supposed to be, and he says over and over again, I don't like this or I'm not sure about this,” she said.
“Take the private contractor issue. That went on for a long time because we didn't quite get what his concerns were. So it's not all a one-sided critique here. There’s got to be a recognition that we have a dialogue and a partnership and that we both have to work at it,” Clinton said.
Panetta said the US is making very good progress in terms of security, particularly in the south and southwestern parts of Afghanistan. “Those are difficult areas. We've now got to try to improve the situation in the east,” he said.
“Overall, the situation is doing much better,” he continued. “We have weakened the Taliban significantly, and we're continuing to work on that. We are continuing to build the Afghan army and police. They are right on target in terms of the numbers that we needed to develop,” Panetta said.
“So we are working in the right direction. We're going through transition. We're beginning to transition areas. There are others we're going to have to do. We've got to make sure that the Afghan government is prepared to not only govern but to help secure that country in the long run,” Panetta said.
“But I really do believe that if we stick with this mission, that we can achieve the goals that we're after, which is to create a stable Afghanistan that… [is] never again… a safe haven for the Taliban or for al Qaeda,” he said.
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