Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said she does not believe Afghan President Hamid Karzai was distancing himself from the United States when he said recently that Afghanistan would rather side with Pakistan than the United States if there were a war between the two countries.
Karzai told a Pakistani television station last week that in the event of a conflict with the United States, Afghanistan would support Pakistan.
Karzai’s comments came just one day after Clinton visited him in Afghanistan. Read more here.
“President Karzai and I had a very productive meeting when I was in Kabul last week,” she said. “So, frankly, when I heard about the comments, we immediately asked Ambassador [Ryan] Crocker to go in and figure out what it meant and what the point of it was. …[He] reported back that he really believed that what Karzai was talking about was the long history of cooperation between Afghanistan and Pakistan. … And that it is not at all about a war that anybody was predicting and that it was both taken out of context and misunderstood.”
Clinton was also asked to clarify reports that U.S. officials met with members of the Pakistan-based Haqqani militant network, which is affiliated with the Taliban. The United States has accused the Pakistani government of aiding the Haqqani network.
“We want to fight, talk and build, all at the same time,” she said. “Part of the reason for that is to test whether these organizations have any willingness to negotiate in good faith. There is evidence going both ways, to be clear. Sometimes we hear that they will, that there are elements within each that wish to pursue that and then other times that it is off the table.”