By Meghashyam Mali - 03/26/13 11:19 AM EDT
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.
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.
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.