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General News    H4'ed 4/5/10

No joke: Karzai threatens to join the Taliban

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Afghan President Hamid Karzai has slammed Western backers for the second time in a week, accusing the United States of interference, The Wall Street Journal reported Sunday.

In a private meeting with up to 70 Afghan lawmakers Saturday, Karzai also warned that the Taliban insurgency could become a legitimate resistance movement if foreign meddling in Afghan affairs continues, the Journal said, citing participants in the talks.

During the talks, Karzai, whose government is supported by billions of dollars of Western aid and 126,000 foreign troops fighting the Taliban, said he would be compelled to join the insurgency himself if the parliament does not back his bid to take over Afghanistan's electoral watchdog.

His comments came less than a day after Karzai sought to defuse tensions over his earlier anti-foreigner outburst by assuring US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton he was committed to working with the United States.

Kabul and Washington said they were putting behind them the incident which saw Karzai publicly claim last week that foreigners orchestrated election fraud.

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The latest remarks were sure to further erode an already fragile relationship. During a brief, unannounced visit to Kabul on Monday, Obama urged Karzai to rid his government of its pervasive corruption.

Karzai spent a large part of two and a half hours criticizing lawmakers for rejecting his efforts to wrestle control of the country's Electoral Complaints Commission from the United Nations, five of the legislators who gathered at the presidential palace told the Journal.

Western officials were said to be seeking the installation of a "puppet government" in Afghanistan, the lawmakers said.

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"He said that the only reason that the Taliban and other insurgent groups are fighting the Afghan government is that they see foreigners having the final say in everything," one lawmaker told the newspaper.

The lawmakers quoted Karzai as saying the Taliban's "revolt will change to resistance" if the United States and its allies keep dictating how his government should run.

 

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