Karzai seeks to calm US over accusations, calls Clinton
Afghan President Hamid Karzai sought Friday to quell growing controversy over his accusations that foreigners meddled into Kabul's business, calling US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton to reassure the US, dpa reported.
Karzai expressed to Clinton "his appreciation for the contributions and sacrifices of the international community," according to a statement released by Philip Crowley, a spokesman for the US State Department.
Just days after meeting with US President Barack Obama in Kabul, Karzai on Thursday blamed US and European Union election monitors for orchestrating "widespread fraud" in the August presidential election. He said the West was also trying to stop the next round of parliamentary elections slated for September.
Earlier Friday, Crowley told reporters that the allegations were "preposterous."
Karzai's remarks came as the United States and NATO are stepping up their military efforts in Afghanistan to defeat the militant Taliban and al-Qaeda remnants. Obama ordered an additional 30,000 troops to the country in December.
Karzai called Clinton Friday "to clarify his statements" and the two officials "had a constructive conversation," Crowley said. Karzai also "reaffirmed his commitment to the partnership between our two countries."
Karl Eikenberry, the US ambassador to Afghanistan, met with Karzai on Friday to "clarify" the remarks.
Relations between the West and Karzai have steadily deteriorated since the disputed August election. UN monitors exposed massive fraud in the poll and threw out one-third of Karzai's votes, forcing a run- off. Karzai was eventually declared the winner because his chief opponent dropped out of the run-off.
Karzai accused US diplomat Peter Galbraith, the former deputy United Nations envoy in Afghanistan, and French General Philippe Morillon, head of EU's monitoring mission, of leading the vote rigging.
The US is also pressing Karzai to bring corruption under control and stand up a solid civilian government in the areas now being cleared of the Taliban by the NATO troops.