Afghan President in Washington for Talks

May 11, 2010 Updated: May 11, 2010

The Obama administration welcomed the arrival of Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai with a red carpet Monday.

Karzai, who was personally greeted by the envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan after his landing, is in the capital for four-day talks. He has a dinner with the Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and will meet with the U.S. President Barack Obama on Wednesday.

The visit comes at a time when U.S. military forces are planning to send 30,000 extra troops to Afghanistan in the hope of defeating the Taliban. The troop withdrawal schedule is planned to start July 2011.

The relationship between Karzai and the White House has been strained after the Afghan president accused Western politicians of being behind the fraud in the 2009 elections and trying to rig the results against him. The Obama administration criticized those comments, but both parties declared their intentions to work together.

“Karzai is our partner in this battle against al-Qaeda and their extremist allies," White House spokesman Robert Gibbs was quoted as saying.

Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the top U.S. military commander in Afghanistan, said the battle against the Taliban is now being prepared in Kandahar Province—the spiritual center of the Taliban—and Helmand Province, where insurgents are making money from the opium business.

One of the goals of the Afghanistan president is to win U.S. support for the policy of reconciliation with Taliban insurgents. A Karzai spokesman said that they also want to raise the issue of civilian casualties in Afghanistan, which are undermining public support for the U.S.-led military initiative against the Taliban. Gen. McChrystal said minimizing the number of civilians deaths is a top priority, although NATO forces killed 49 civilians between October and March during their fight with insurgents.

The Obama administration is pressing the Afghan government to end the corruption prevalent within their political system.