Obama asks aides to ‘treat Afghan president better’


WASHINGTON – US President Barack Obama has asked his security team to treat Afghan President Hamid Karzai with more public respect after US statements called into question the relationship, The Washington Post reported Sunday.

The newspaper said Obama sought to impose discipline on his administration during a White House meeting last month.

Karzai is expected in Washington Monday for a crunch summit aimed at repairing ties after a damaging row, a meeting that is likely to see renewed US pressure on the embattled leader to wipe out corruption.

His talks with Obama will be the first since Karzai infuriated the White House with a string of outspoken criticisms alleging that foreign nations orchestrated fraud in the 2009 election that returned him to power.

US administration officials have sent mixed signals about Karzai’s legitimacy and his value to the US-led counterinsurgency campaign.

As a result, The Post reported, Karzai threatened to join the Taliban just days after Obama concluded his first presidential trip to Kabul in late March.

Karzai grew bitter after receiving a copy of comments made by Obama’s national security adviser on the way to Kabul that struck him as insulting, the report said.

Days later, Karzai read in a newspaper article that an unidentified US official was threatening to put Ahmed Wali Karzai, his half-brother, on the military’s kill-or-capture list, the paper noted.

Karzai had been led to believe months earlier that his brother, who leads Kandahar’s provincial council, would remain in his post despite persistent accusations of corruption and ties to drug trafficking, The Post said.

“There has been a rough patch,” the paper quotes a senior administration official as saying.

“Frankly, some of what Karzai said needed to be responded to. But the bottom line is that there has been an improvement since then in the atmospherics and in the substance of our dealings with President Karzai and his team.”

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