Karzai Answers Critics

KARZAI SAYS “AFGHAN PEOPLE ARE GRATEFUL,” VIDEO HERE


President Bush greets Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai yesterday in the Oval Office.

President Karzai answered critics from the press and State Department yesterday amid the rumors that the Afghanis were bitter and hostile towards the US and that the narcotics situation was out of control:

Debunking State Department predictions that Afghanistan is on the verge of becoming a “narco-state,” Afghan President Hamid Karzai says his country could be free of opium poppies in five or six years.

With President Bush at his side Monday after a meeting, Karzai said he is hopeful that poppy production will be down 20 percent to 30 percent this year.

He added that the elimination of the poppy can be achieved only if Afghan farmers can cultivate other crops as alternatives.

Just two months ago, a State Department report said the area in Afghanistan devoted to poppy cultivation last year set a record of more than 510,000 acres, more than triple the figure for 2003. Opium poppy is the raw material for heroin.

The Afghan narcotics situation “represents an enormous threat to world stability,” the report said.

Karzai was continuing his official visit here on Tuesday with meetings on Capitol Hill and an appearance at a local think tank.

After talks on security issues with Bush, Karzai toured the Freer Art Gallery and the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery here. He viewed Afghan paintings dating from the 15th Century as well as Silk Road art and artifacts.

Also, yesterday, as the press worried over reports of Afghan disappointment of US forces and control over those forces, President Bush and President Karzai struck a constructive tone over the issue:

NOTE: I could not believe the spin in this article by AFP so I decided to put down two different accounts of the situation my version without media bias and the original…

# 1- Here is my version of the report without the bias:

President Bush and Afghan President Hamid Karzai papered over their differences over U.S. military operations in Afghanistan on Monday and agreed that American forces will have “freedom of action.”

The two leaders presented a picture of harmony at a news conference in the White House East Room, and a tangible outcome of their talks was a joint strategic partnership they signed aimed at strengthening ties.

Karzai agreed with the United States to consult more with the Afghan government before raiding homes and villages in the search for members of al Qaeda and the Taliban.

A joint declaration was signed by Karzai and Bush that “U.S. and coalition forces are to continue to have the freedom of action required to conduct appropriate military operations based on consultations and pre-agreed procedures.”

“They’ve invited us in, and we’ll consult with them in terms of how to achieve mutual goals,” Bush said, while noting that “of course our troops will respond to U.S. commanders.”

Karzai told Bush of his concern about a U.S. Army report on alleged abuse of Afghan detainees.

#2 -And, here is the original news article I took the information from, unedited:

The two leaders went out of their way to present a picture of harmony at a news conference in the White House East Room, and a tangible outcome of their talks was a joint strategic partnership they signed aimed at strengthening ties.

But Karzai apparently fell short in his goal to persuade the United States to consult more with the Afghan government before raiding homes and villages in the search for members of al Qaeda and the Taliban.

In the end, he agreed in a joint declaration that he and Bush signed that “U.S. and coalition forces are to continue to have the freedom of action required to conduct appropriate military operations based on consultations and pre-agreed procedures.”

“They’ve invited us in, and we’ll consult with them in terms of how to achieve mutual goals,” Bush said, while noting that “of course our troops will respond to U.S. commanders.”

Karzai told Bush of his concern about a U.S. Army report on alleged abuse of Afghan detainees. (brought out in the News York Times this week on events of 2002)

Update: Chrenkoff agrees on the media bias, with a focus on Newsweek, in his posting today.

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