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Holbrooke Turns Page on Karzai Squabble (And Settles the Score)

The Obama administration doesn’t want to fight with Afghan President Hamid Karzai anymore. Amb. Richard Holbrooke, the special representative to Afghanistan and Pakistan, said the U.S.’s relationship with the Afghan president is in “good shape.” That stuff about Karzai threatening to join the Taliban if he didn’t get to control an election monitor? In the past. (“The waters got roiled a little bit,” Holbrooke said at a press briefing yesterday.) Karzai will visit Washington from May 10 to 14 and soon afterward will hold a “peace jirga,” or national council seeking to establish the contours of a reconciliation offer to the Taliban.

Later yesterday, Holbrooke got in a shot at the United Nations’ former envoy to Afghanistan, Kai Eide. Eide’s old deputy, the former U.S. ambassador (and Holbrooke ally) Peter Galbraith, accused Eide of placing the U.N. mission in a quiescent position when Karzai committed widespread fraud in last year’s presidential election. After a screening of a forthcoming HBO documentary about Holbrooke’s friend Sergio Vieira de Mello, the revered U.N. diplomat killed in Iraq in 2003, Holbrooke told a panel discussion that he had recently come from a Kabul meeting that included Staffan de Mistura, Eide’s successor, whom he called “a substantial step forward” from his predecessor.

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