WASHINGTON, March 5, 2010 -- The rhetorical divide between the United States and Afghan President Hamid Karzai showed no signs of abating today: Karzai has spoken out against the U.S. and NATO presence in his country twice in the past week and now the United States is suggesting he watch what he say.
"What he says does have an impact back here in the United States and he should choose his words carefully," State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley warned today.
In the latest incident on Saturday, during a closed-door meeting with members of the Afghan parliament, Karzai suggested he might join the Taliban, according to members of parliament who were in the meeting.
"If I am not able to get these things [change the electoral law] and I can't uphold the sovereignty of this country, this will be turning into an occupation. We have to fight an occupation, and one has to join them," one lawmaker quoted Karzai as saying, according to ABC News' Nicholas Schifrin.
Today Crowley called Karzai's suggestion that me might join the Taliban a "head-scratcher."
White House spokesman Robert Gibbs called the remarks "troubling" and said, "on behalf of the American people, we're frustrated with the remarks."
Afghan Leader Blames U.S.
Last Thursday Karzai suggested that the UN and other international bodies were responsible for fraud during last year's election.
The next day, the U.S. Ambassador in Kabul, Karl Eikenberry, went to meet with Karzai over the comments. Karzai then called Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to "clarify," according to the State Department.
Crowley told reporters today that during the call Karzai insisted his remarks from Thursday were not directed at the United States and expressed frustration at the media's depiction.
U.S. to Afghan Leader: Watch What You Say
The spat comes as the US is ramping up its forces in the country and is expected to launch a major offensive in Kandahar, the Taliban stronghold, in June.