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For good of Afghanistan war, US seeks truce with Hamid Karzai

The US and Afghan President Hamid Karzai have sniping at each other as a new Afghanistan war offensive nears. But the Obama administration offered an olive branch Sunday.

By Gordon LuboldStaff writer / April 12, 2010

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates speak with moderator David Gregory (r.) on NBC's 'Meet the Press.' The secretaries touched on the Afghanistan war and offered support for Afghan President Hamid Karzai.

William B. Plowman/Meet The Press/AP

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Washington

The Obama administration is trying a new tack with Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai that is bigger on carrots and smaller on sticks.

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Despite a series of anti-Western remarks from Mr. Karzai, which included veiled threats to join the Taliban, top US officials are now keen to give the president a little more breathing room. The change in tone from the US comes after a series of rhetorical missteps that have created a diplomatic rift just as the US begins to mount a major offensive in the Afghanistan war in the southern province of in Kandahar.

Now, the US is mending fences.

President Karzai is playing a “very constructive role,” said Defense Secretary Robert Gates on CBS’s Face the Nation Sunday. “The working relationship with him on a day-to-day basis is still going quite well.”

And on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was quick to demonstrate her support for Karzai. “I personally have a lot of sympathy for President Karzai and the extraordinary stress he lives under every single minute of every single day,” she said, recalling her days in the Clinton White House when she and her husband were under heavy political scrutiny.

A change in tone

Just days ago, the administration was sending an entirely different message. Frustrated with Karzai’s lack of progress on combating corruption in his own country, the Obama administration had gone on the offensive during President Obama’s trip last month to Kabul.

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