US 'troubled' by Karzai attack
The United States is troubled by comments Afghan President Hamid Karzai made in which he accused the West of trying to weaken him, White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said yesterday.
"Obviously some of the comments of President Karzai are troubling. They're cause for real and genuine concern," Mr Gibbs told reporters.
The state department said US Ambassador Karl Eikenberry had met with Mr Karzai yesterday to discuss his comments, which it called "preposterous".
Mr Karzai accused the West on Thursday of trying to ruin Afghanistan's elections, intensifying a showdown with parliament over whether foreigners will oversee a parliamentary vote this year.
President Barack Obama made a quick, unannounced trip to Afghanistan last weekend to visit US troops and hold talks with Karzai. "We are seeking clarification from President Karzai about the nature of some of his remarks," Mr Gibbs said.
"And I think the President was quite clear with President Karzai over the weekend of the necessary steps that have to be taken to improve governance and corruption in order to deal with problems we face there."
Mr Gibbs said a planned meeting between presidents Obama and Karzai in Washington in May was still on "for now". "As of right now, yes," he said, when asked if the meeting was still expected to take place.
Mr Karzai's reputation took a hit last year after a UN-backed fraud watchdog threw out a third of the votes cast for him in last year's presidential election.
He is now wrangling with parliament and the UN over fraud protection measures for a parliamentary vote due in September.