Hagel meets Karzai amid frayed ties
Kabul (AP): US Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel has encountered political tension with the Afghan President and a series of security problems during his...
Kabul (AP): US Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel has encountered political tension with the Afghan President and a series of security problems during his first visit to Afghanistan as Pentagon chief, but he met privately with President Hamid Karzai and says they discussed the key issues. Hagel says he understands that Karzai faces political pressures as the war winds down. "I think he understands where we are and where we've been, and hopefully where we're going together," Hagel told reporters, but he declined to detail their talks. Hagel is disputing Karzai's accusations that the US and the Taliban are working in concert to show that violence in the country will worsen if most coalition troops leave. The accusations were just the latest in a series of disputes that have frayed relations between the two nations as the US works to wrap up the war and turn the country's security over to the Afghans. The US and the Afghan leaders are in the midst of negotiations over the long-term presence of American forces in Afghanistan beyond the end of 2014, when all combat troops are scheduled to leave.