Karzai says did not mean to criticize US about West coverage of Afghanistan

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Washington, Apr.3 (ANI): President Hamid Karzai has telephoned Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and told her that he had not meant to criticize the United States, but rather Western news coverage of Afghanistan.

In a speech on Thursday, Karzai had accused Western media of spreading reports characterizing last year's presidential election as fraudulent "to pressure me."

On Friday, during a 25-minute talk with Clinton, Karzai was told "We're prepared to stay focused on the work ahead."

According to the New York Times, Clinton spoke about Washington's commitment to Afghanistan and told Karzai that the United States had no control over American news coverage.

Earlier on Friday, the White House had called the speech "troubling" and said it was seeking clarification through the State Department, which is diplomatic code for expressing annoyance and even anger.

Karzai's speech, coming just days after President Obama visited him in Kabul, laid bare the deep mistrust between the leaders and their governments even as the United States has tripled its troop commitment since the start of 2009 to fight the Taliban and Al Qaeda.

Karzai, American officials said, was still stinging from a political defeat after the lower house of Parliament on Wednesday rejected a revision of the electoral law that would have allowed him to appoint all the members of an agency that investigates electoral irregularities. The United Nations appoints three of the five members.

The United States has pressed Karzai to undertake electoral changes to avoid a repeat of the widespread fraud that tainted his election last year.

In a statement, the State Department said Karzai "reaffirmed his commitment to the partnership between our two countries, and expressed his appreciation for the contributions and sacrifices of the international community."

"They pledged to continue working together," it added. (ANI)

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