US would consider canceling Karzai visit

08:52, April 07, 2010      

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In a new indication of very strained relations, the White House said on Tuesday it would consider canceling an upcoming visit by Afghan President Hamid Karzai if he continues to make "troublesome" remarks.
Such a move would be a remarkable diplomatic slap likely to infuriate the Afghan leader, analysts believe.

Karzai has infuriated the White House with accusations that the United Nations and the international community interfered in last year's fraud-tarnished presidential election in Afghanistan.

Karzai also threatened to join the Taliban insurgency if the U.S. continues pressuring him publicly, comments that had stunned and angered the White House.

"We certainly would evaluate whatever continued or further remarks President Karzai makes, as to whether that's constructive to have such a meeting, sure," White House spokesman Robert Gibbs told reporters on Tuesday.

"Our position on this is that when the Afghan leaders take steps to improve governance and root out corruption, then the president will say kind words," Gibbs said. "When leaders need to hear stern language from this administration about the consequences of not acting, we'll do that as well."

White House officials said no cancellation was imminent. While irritated by Karzai, the U.S. military also wants closer cooperation ahead of a potentially decisive offensive this summer.

But just the fact that President Barack Obama's chief spokesman raised the possibility so bluntly and in such a public setting, very rare in the careful, nuanced world of diplo-speak, showed the depth of anger and frustration in Washington toward Karzai.

Karzai was due to meet with Obama at the White House on May 12.

A delicate diplomatic dance also surrounded Netanyahu's visit to Obama two weeks ago. In a break with custom, reporters were not invited to see the two leaders shake hands and begin their talks, and neither side has provided a substantive account of the session. A rift over new Israeli housing planned in east Jerusalem has contributed to the deepest dispute between the U.S. and Israel in decades.

Source: Agencies


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