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US Envoy: Obama Welcomes Afghan Feedback in Policy Review

  • VOA News

A U.S. envoy says President Barack Obama has welcomed Afghanistan's request to join a strategic review of Washington's policies on Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Richard Holbrooke, the new U.S. envoy to the region, discussed the review with Afghan President Hamid Karzai during a visit to Kabul Sunday.

At a news conference with Holbrooke, Mr. Karzai said his foreign minister (Rangin Dadfar Spanta) would be leading Afghanistan's delegation to Washington.

He did not say when the delegation would leave, although the U.S. plans to wrap up its assessment before a NATO summit in April.

Officials describe Holbrooke's trip as a fact-finding mission as part of Mr. Obama's review of the U.S. counter-terrorism strategy in the region.

Holbrooke has already visited Pakistan and travels to India Sunday.

Mr. Obama has said the U.S. will shift its military focus from Iraq to Afghanistan, and Washington is considering sending tens of thousands more troops to tackle the growing insurgency in Afghanistan.

Mr. Karzai told CNN International Sunday that if more troops are deployed to Afghanistan, they should be in places where terrorists are operating, not in Afghan villages.

Holbrooke's visit to Kabul follows months of criticism that Afghanistan's problems are partly due to President Karzai's failure to stem government corruption and strengthen state institutions.

Mr. Karzai acknowledged on CNN International Sunday that corruption is a real problem in Afghanistan. But, he suggested that reports about his brother being involved in the drug trade were crafted by U.S. officials as a "pressure tactic" after he disagreed with certain U.S. policies.

Washington has not yet responded to Mr. Karzai's comments.
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