April 7th, 2010
04:19 PM ET

State Department downplays rift with Afghanistan president

[cnn-photo-caption image=
http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/POLITICS/05/08/afghanistan.karzai/art.karzai.cnn.jpg caption="Karzai: 'ally in a shared struggle.'"]

Charley Keyes
CNN Senior Producer

The U.S. State Department Tuesday stiff-armed what it called “outrageous allegations” against Afghanistan’s President Hamid Karzai and praised him as an ally in a shared struggle.

“We’re committed to this partnership. There is too much at stake, Afghan lives, American lives, coalition partners. There is shared vital interests in this struggle. We share President Karzai’s desire to lead Afghanistan to greater sovereignty and we support the goals he has laid out from his Inauguration speech until today.”

In recent days former United Nations diplomat Peter Galbraith suggested that Mr. Karzai may have been using drugs. Earlier Mr. Karzai accused the United States and other countries of interfering in elections widely believed to have in fact been manipulated by Karzai himself. Another report said Karzai had boasted that he would join the Taliban if U.S. pressure continued.

State Department spokesman Philip Crowley said the U.S. supports none of Galbraith’s allegations which he called “outrageous” and that the U.S. had no concerns about Karzai’s behavior.

“To the extent we have differences with President Karzai we will work through them constructively in the spirit of the long term partnership we have established with Afghanistan,” Crowley said.

And he stepped back from suggestions voiced Monday by White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs that the U.S. might take back an invitation to Washington next month. “The visit is still on and there has been no change,” Crowley said.

“He is the president of Afghanistan and he has been significantly engaged with us on a regular basis. The Secretary talked to him Friday … we have no information to support the charges that Peter Galbraith has leveled,” Crowley said.

“Will we see eye to eye on every step – no we don’t,” Crowley said. “and where we have concerns we wil respectfully engage the government, not just the president but others, and work through these in a spirit of respect and partnership.”

And Crowley suggested that some of Karzai’s comments may be aimed at politicians inside Afghanistan, not at Washington.

“We have concerns about some of the things he has said, just as I think that probably president Karzai and others may take issue with some of the things that are said in this country,” Crowley said.

“We do understand that there is a political process that has emerged in Afghanistan. That’s a good thing. And politicians in Afghanistan and around the world sometimes will feel a need to say things of importance to their own populations and that may cause us some discomfort.”

Filed under: Afghanistan • United Nations
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