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Obama to meet Karzai in Lisbon

by Lalit K Jha on 19 November, 2010 - 16:13

WASHINGTON (PAN): The US President, Barack Obama, would meet his Afghan counterpart, Hamid Karzai, in Lisbon on the sidelines of the key NATO Summit that begins in Portugal on Friday, the White House announced on Thursday.

Karzai, heading a delegation, on Thursday left for Lisbon, while Obama also left for the venue Thursday evening.

World leaders are meeting in Lisbon for a crucial summit focusing on the war in Afghanistan and how to withdraw troops within the next four years.

The meeting between Obama and Karzai would be the first in recent months, but the White House Press Secretary, Robert Gibbs, did not indicate as to why this meeting with Karzai was added in the last minute on Obama’s schedule in Lisbon.

Ahead of the Obama-Karzai meeting, the Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, made a telephonic call with Karzai and met the visiting Afghan Foreign Minister, Zalmay Rassoul, at the Foggy Bottom headquarters of the State Department.

Before leaving for Lisbon at the end of his two-day Washington visit, Rassoul also met the Special US Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, Richard Holbrooke. This was his maiden visit as foreign minister of Afghanistan.

“The issue of integration was discussed. Both sides stressed on the need of having a peace strategy, besides a military strategy,” the Afghan Foreign Ministry spokesman, Zahir Faqiri, told Pajhwok Afghan News. “It was a very fruitful discussion,” he said adding that the meeting lasted for about 50 minutes.

In the meeting, Rassoul expressed to his counterpart the profound gratitude of the government and people of Afghanistan, noting that the shared stabilisation and reconstruction achievements of the country would have been impossible without the continued support of the US.

Clinton welcomed the recent successful military operations of NATO and Afghan forces, and stressed that increased coordination of such operations further helped stabilised Afghanistan. She said the United States fully supported Afghanistan’s peace efforts, while emphasising the need for consolidation of Afghans’ democratic achievements, with the assistance of the US, Faqiri said.

Rassoul has also met with Senators Carl Levin, Joe Lieberman, and John McCain, as well as Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Michelle Flournoy, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Michael Mullen, and Ambassador at Large for Women’s Affairs Melanne Verveer.

Rassoul was accompanied by Deputy Foreign Minister for Political Affairs, Eklil Hakimi, Director of General of Americas Dept. Nasir Andisha.

Faqiri said Rassoul told the US leaders that the ANSF had increasingly demonstrated preparedness to take over the security responsibility. He called upon the US and Afghanistan’s other nation-partners to bolster efforts to train and equip the Afghan forces so they gradually achieve self-reliance to defend Afghanistan.

The spokesperson, also strongly refuted media reports that there was any difference between Karzai and General David Petraeus, Commander of the US and NATO forces in Afghanistan, as has been reported in the US media in the past few days.

The Pentagon too denied such reports. “We have been working closely with the Afghan government, with President Karzai and his team, for several weeks now, and I think through this collaborative process arrived at a resolution we all think is very responsible and reasonable,” the Pentagon spokesman, Geoff Morrell said.



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