White House: Obama, Karzai 'on the same page'

March 16, 2012 at 1:49 PM
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ABOARD AIR FORCE ONE, March 16 (UPI) -- President Obama and Afghan President Hamid Karzai reaffirmed their commitment to shifting security to Afghan forces by the end of 2014, the White House said.

Obama called Karzai Friday to congratulate him on the birth of his daughter and the two leaders "took the opportunity to reaffirm our shared commitment to the … framework in which Afghan forces would complete the process of transition and have full responsibility for security across the country by the end of 2014," White House spokesman Jay Carney told reporters Friday en route to Chicago, where Obama had two campaign events scheduled.

"I think that the two men were very much on the same page," the spokesman said.

Obama and Karzai also discussed the Afghan leader's concerns on night raids and house searches and recommitted to negotiations on a memorandum of understanding to resolve Karzai's concerns, Carney said.

"They also agreed to further discuss concerns voiced by President Karzai about the presence of foreign troops in Afghan villages," Carney said.

Karzai called for coalition forces to withdraw from villages to large bases in the aftermath of a U.S. soldier allegedly killing 16 villagers Sunday in Kandahar province.

CNN, meanwhile, reported Karzai voiced doubt Friday about the recounting of events provided by U.S. authorities when he met with the families of 16 civilians allegedly killed by the U.S. Army staff sergeant.

During his meeting with villagers at the presidential palace in Kabul, Karzai said, "We tried to talk to the soldier involved, but there was no cooperation from America. Based on what you are saying, the killer was not just one person."

Karzai, who said he spoke with Obama earlier, also suggested the U.S.-Afghanistan relationship was at the breaking point, CNN said.

"It is by all means the end of the rope here," Karzai said.

When asked whether Obama and Karzai discussed Karzai's comments that he would like the withdrawal of U.S. troops advanced, Carney said, "I think that was clearly a subject of the conversation … broadly they discussed a variety of issues, with regards to the mission in Afghanistan."

"The two leaders did discuss President Karzai's concern about the U.S. forces in Afghan villages and within the context of a discussion about the transition that has already underway and is taking place, that will result in U.S. forces turning over to Afghan forces greater and greater responsibility to the point where they have the combat lead by 2013 and full responsibility for Afghan security, fully, by 2014," Carney said.

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