By Sam Youngman - 04/09/10 03:26 PM EDT
President Barack Obama's top national security advisers said Friday
that next month's meeting with Afghan President Hamid Karzai is still a
go despite Karzai's "troubling" statements in recent days.
National Security Adviser Gen. James Jones told reporters that Karzai "did not intend to create any damage to the relationship" when he accused the U.S. and other Western nations of fraud in last year's Afghan presidential elections.
White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs has repeatedly called Karzai's comments "troubling," and he hinted earlier this week that the invitation to Washington to meet with Obama could be rescinded.
But Jones said Friday: "There’s no modification to that [invitation] whatsoever."
Obama, who was returning to Washington from Prague on Friday, said in an interview on "Good Morning America" that Karzai is a "critical" partner to U.S. efforts in Afghanistan. But the White House has sent mixed messages about how reliable a partner Karzai is.
Gibbs this week refused to characterize Karzai as an ally of the U.S.
But Jones expressed confidence in what Karzai's role as a partner will be, saying he thinks Karzai "will prove himself over time as we tackle all of these important issues to be very reliable and is very appreciative of everything that we’re doing."
"But this is not easy and there are times when in the region he probably is provoked in one way or the other to make certain statements that can be misinterpreted," Jones said.
Obama and his aides have suggested that Karzai has made his comments to satisfy domestic political concerns, and Jones went as far to say that "the matter is really behind us now."