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Page last updated at 22:46 GMT, Monday, 5 April 2010 23:46 UK

Karzai defends Afghanistan US fraud claim

By Lyse Doucet
BBC News, Kabul

Hamid Karzai (1 April 2010)
Karzai denied his comments had dented relations with his allies

Afghan President Hamid Karzai has defended an extraordinary outburst he made against the West about fraud in his country's presidential election.

Mr Karzai told the BBC he still believed the US and others played a role in perpetrating the fraud.

His tirade caused dismay in many capitals, including Washington, where the White House called it "troubling".

But Mr Karzai denied his comments last Thursday had dented his relationship with his key allies.

"What I said about the election was all true," he said in his first public remarks since the comments. "It does not reduce from our partnership; it adds to it."

He said his warning to the West that it could be seen as an invader if it did not change its behaviour was a message to allies that their relationship had to be a partnership between sovereign nations.

Awkward visit?

Speaking to the BBC during a visit to the southern city of Kandahar, Mr Karzai said Nato countries were rich and strong, while Afghanistan was poor but with a powerful identity and history.

He had been visiting Kandahar with the commander of Nato-led forces, General Stanley McChrystal.

US General Stanley McChrystal, file pic
McChrystal said he was focusing on his role as a military commander

I asked the general if the timing of their visit was awkward. He replied it would have been more awkward if the president had not invited him to come.

He said it emphasised the need for a partnership.

"I don't ignore what is written or said, but I try to focus on my lane, as a military commander," he said.

The general's comments underline that no matter how troubling the president's comments are, his allies know they still need to find ways to work with him.

Too much is at stake - the president and the general were in Kandahar in the midst of preparations for the next major military offensive in the south against the Taliban

It is a very sensitive campaign in a very strategic area.

General McChrystal said if it succeeded, it had the potential to send a huge signal to Afghans across the country.



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FROM OTHER NEWS SITES
Guardian.co.uk Diplomat accuses Hamid Karzai of drug abuse - 3 hrs ago
Financial TimesDrug claim clouds US-Afghan relations - 13 hrs ago
Business Day US angered as Karzai stands by fraud claim - 31 hrs ago
Slate Magazine Has Karzai Gone Crazy? - 38 hrs ago
South China Morning Post Karzai rallies tribes, distances self from West - 56 hrs ago
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