Karzai snubs Obama during surprise Afghan visit

Karzai snubs Obama during surprise Afghan visit
Mon May 26, 2014 10:49:09

Afghan President Hamid Karzai has turned down an American offer to meet with US President Barack Obama who made another surprise visit to the war-ravaged nation to salute invading US military forces at an American airbase outside the Afghan capital Kabul.

The development came on Sunday after Obama refused to go to the Afghan capital to meet with government officials there.

An American official, whose identity was not revealed in press reports, said on Sunday, “We did offer him (Karzai) the opportunity to come to Bagram, but we’re not surprised that it didn’t work on short notice.”

“The president will likely be speaking by phone with President Karzai in the days to come, and also looks forward to working with Afghanistan’s next president after the election is complete,” the official said.

Karzai said he was ready to meet the visiting US president at his presidential palace and not the Bagram airfield.

Relations between the two sides have been strained over the Afghan president’s refusal to sign a bilateral security agreement with the US. The pact would allow Washington to keep its forces in Afghanistan beyond the 2014 exit deadline. Karzai has frequently criticized the US for pressuring him to sign the agreement.

During his surprise trip to Afghanistan on Sunday, Obama said his country’s longest war will be over by the end of this year, but Washington will likely maintain its military presence in the war-weary nation.

Obama said he would soon announce his decision about the US’s military presence in Afghanistan.

The US and its allies invaded Afghanistan in 2001 as part of Washington’s so-called war on terror. The offensive removed the Taliban from power, but insecurity continues to rise across the country, despite the presence of tens of thousands of US-led troops.

At least 2,181 US service members have lost their lives during the nearly 13-year war in Afghanistan.

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