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Jones: Karzai Visit to White House Is Absolutely On

This exchange aboard Air Force One with Gen. Jim Jones, the national security adviser, and Denis McDonough, the National Security Council’s chief of staff, settles a round of speculation as to whether the White House would cancel Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s planned visit to Washington out of displeasure with his recent paranoid outbursts:

GENERAL JONES: We believe that we are on a encouraging glide path in Afghanistan, and Pakistan I might add. We have a number of significant events coming up: President Karzai’s visit to the U.S., the Kabul conference later on, the –

Q The Karzai visit is on definitely?

MR. McDONOUGH: Absolutely.

GENERAL JONES: There’s no modification to that whatsoever.

We have been in contact, as you all know. President Karzai and Secretary Clinton had a clarifying conversation. We have consistently said since the elections that President Karzai is our strategic partner. We have a huge amount of work to do in terms of bringing all these pieces of our strategy together so they function in a cohesive way. We see indications on the ground that they are, in fact, moving in that direction. We have I think a successful operation in Marja. We have strategic objectives to achieve by the end of this year to solidify the gains that we think we’re making now.

And I believe that the rhetoric on perhaps both sides ought to — we ought to calm the rhetoric and engage as strategic partners intent on bringing about peace and security in not only Afghanistan and Pakistan, but in the region as well. And that’s what we’re doing.

That’s from the transcript of a press briefing earlier this morning. Jones revealed that President Obama sent Karzai a letter yesterday “basically recommitting ourselves to the success of our operation and our partnership and looks forward to greeting him in Washington to continue that progress.” McDonough clarified that it was a “thank you letter, because the President was very grateful for the fact that on such short notice that President Karzai and his government did receive him and the delegation at the palace, had the dinner that the General spoke about.”

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