Washington, Kabul can disagree, says envoy

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A U.S. military helicopter takes off from Camp Wilderness in Khost province on Saturday.
A U.S. military helicopter takes off from Camp Wilderness in Khost province on Saturday.

KABUL: Disagreements between Washington and Kabul are natural and should be taken in stride, said the U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan said on Saturday, as the sides sought to move past friction that surfaced after President Hamid Karzai's harsh criticism of the West.

Mr. Karzai has lashed out at the United Nations and the international community over alleged interference in last year's fraud-tarnished presidential election, at one point even threatening to join the insurgency if the West didn't back off.

Such occasional flare-ups are inevitable, Karl Eikenberry told reporters at the end of a news conference in Kabul.

“This is not easy work to do,” he said. “We can have different perspectives.”

Mr. Karzai's comments had been called disturbing by the White House and officials had suggested they could cancel Mr. Karzai's planned visit to Washington in May if they continued. However, in an interview published on Friday, President Barack Obama's said Mr. Karzai remains “a critical partner” in the fight against terrorism, while National Security Adviser James Jones told reporters the sides had “gotten through this period”. Mr. Obama has been more critical of Mr. Karzai than his predecessor George W. Bush, though that tone appears to be softening amid the realisation that Mr. Karzai is vital to holding Afghanistan together as the U.S. moves to boost troop levels to 1,00,000 in hopes of delivering a final defeat on the Taliban and Al-Qaeda. U.S. officials warn, though, that graft, cronyism, and electoral fraud makes that task harder by fuelling sympathy for the Taliban.

Two members of a nomadic tribe were killed by a roadside bomb Friday in the southern province of Kandahar, said the Ministry.

NATO said a joint Afghan-international force captured an explosives expert and several other suspected militants in a raid on a compound west of Kandahar city on Friday night. It did not say whether any bomb-making materials were recovered.

Also Saturday, NATO said it still had no information on what caused the crash of a U.S. Air Force Osprey in which three service members and a civilian contractor were killed. — AP

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