To add insult to a difficult relationship with Afghanistan, the U.S. faced a surprising accusation by that nation's president. Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai publicly claimed to know about secret meetings between the U.S., other foreign entities and the Taliban. The agreement allegedly encourages violence as a pretext to keep foreign troops in Afghanistan. According to a March 10 article in the Los Angeles Times, Karzai's comments caused anger and confusion among U.S. officials.
Karzai made his statements in a national broadcast before he was to meet with Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel in a joint news conference. A March 10 NPR article reported that the president was referring to Saturday's deadly bombings in Kabul and Khost Province. Eighteen people died in the bombings. He claimed that the bombings only serve the United States and the Taliban, and that they help “to pave the way for foreigners not to leave, but to stay.” Karzai went further to claim that the U.S. and other foreigners have held daily meetings "elsewhere" with the Taliban.
Karzai also claims that the Taliban welcome a continued foreign presence.
U.S. Gen. Joseph Dunford commands the U.S. troops in Afghanistan. He said Karzai has never made such a claim before, “President Karzai has never said to me that the United States was colluding with the Taliban, so I don't know what caused him to say that today. All I can do is speak for the Coalition and tell you that it's categorically false.”
A Saturday joint news conference with Hagel and Karzai was cancelled after the bombings, but the two met for dinner on Sunday, according to a March 10 WCYB News report. Hagel said, “I know these are difficult issues for President Karzai and the Afghan people. I was once a politician, so I can understand the kind of pressures that especially leaders of countries are always under. I would hope, again, that we can move forward, and I have confidence that we can and will deal with these issues.”
Last October, former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta chastised Karzai for not thanking the U.S. for sacrifices that were made in Afghanistan.