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Kerry says he’s ‘on the same page’ with Karzai after Afghanistan visit

Secretary of State John Kerry said he and Afghan President Hamid Karzai were “on the same page” after a day of talks aimed at resolving growing tensions between Washington and Kabul.

Kerry and Karzai held a joint press conference on Tuesday morning, a day after Kerry’s unannounced visit to Afghanistan. Kerry’s stop came amid concerns of a rift between the two countries after Karzai had suggested last week during Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel's trip that Taliban forces and the United States were holding back-channel negotiations and benefiting from continued violence in the country.

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Kerry on Tuesday downplayed that controversy, saying that he was “confident the [Afghan] president does not believe the U.S. has any interest except to see the Taliban come to the table to make peace.”

The United States has denied holding private talks with the Taliban and Kerry said he had directly raised the controversial remarks with Karzai. 

"We're on the same page," he added. "I don't think there is any disagreement between us, and I am very, very comfortable with the president's explanation."

Karzai during the press conference said he had not accused the United States and Taliban of “colluding,” claiming his statements were misrepresented by the media. 

Karzai’s comments were only the latest flare-up with Washington. Earlier this month, the Afghan president called on NATO commanders to hand over control of U.S.-backed militias to Kabul and ordered a halt to U.S. special operations in a critical province.

The moves threatened to complicate plans to accelerate the departure of U.S. military forces from the country by the end of 2014. The White House is pushing ahead with plans to hand over control of security operations to local forces.

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Kerry and Karzai also marked the handover of Bagram prison to Afghan authorities. Transfer of the prison had been delayed over U.S. concerns that many prisoners feared to still pose a security risk would be released.

Under the agreement, an Afghan board will review intelligence and determine which detainees will be released.

“As of today, we don't have prisoners. Whatever is occurring here is under the control of the Afghan people,” Kerry said.