Afghan President Hamid Karzai affirmed his support for fair and inclusive elections in his country next year during a phone call today with U.S. President Barack Obama, according to a White House statement.
The two leaders also discussed progress in transferring responsibility for security to Afghan forces from the U.S.-led coalition, according to the statement. Obama and Karzai are looking forward to the point later this year when Afghan personnel will take a leading role and the coalition’s mission will shift to support from combat, the White House said.
Tensions with Karzai had intensified in recent months, with the Afghan president saying on March 10, during a visit by U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, that Taliban suicide attacks were in the “service of America.” Secretary of State John Kerry, during meetings in Kabul two weeks later, played down those strains and voiced confidence that the two nations would reach an agreement for some U.S. forces to remain after 2014.
Obama has pledged to bring most U.S. troops home from Afghanistan by the end of next year, though he hasn’t said how many would remain. During today’s call, Obama welcomed Karzai’s meetings last month with the Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Hamad Bin Khalifa Al Thani, to advance peace talks with the Taliban.
Karzai credited the U.S. handover last month of the Parwan detention facility outside Kabul, according to the statement. The two leaders agreed that officials from the U.S. and Afghanistan would strive to “keep dangerous detainees off the battlefield, and work in partnership at the facility, consistent with Afghan sovereignty,” according to the statement.
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