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Petraeus, Karzai meet to ease tensions after criticism of US raids

From Adam Levine, CNN
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Geoff Morrell: The meeting ended with "no daylight between" the two
  • Senior coalition official says Afghan president still "has reservations"
  • Rift started when Karzai complained in print of "intrusive" U.S. presence
  • Petraeus said Karzai's view would make countries' relationship "untenable"

Washington (CNN) -- Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai and Gen. David Petraeus, commander of U.S. and NATO troops in Afghanistan, have met in an effort to ease tensions after the president criticized foreign forces operations in his country, a Pentagon spokesman said Thursday.

The two met Wednesday in Afghanistan, according to Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell.

Morrell said the meeting between the two ended with "no daylight between them." But a senior coalition official told CNN Pentagon Correspondent Barbara Starr that Karzai still "has reservations."

Those concerns are "only from a domestic political standpoint of their cultural sensitivity," the official said. "He fully understands and supports them in his responsibility for security in the country."

The rift started after the Afghan president told the Washington Post he would like to scale back U.S. military presence in Afghanistan and criticized the military presence as "intrusive" and special operations raids as a problem. Petraeus, in response, told Karzai aids the president's view could make the relationship with the U.S. "untenable."

Morrell said that at the Wednesday meeting there was "a very good discussion" about the concerns.

"I think at the end of it there was a solid understanding between those two gentleman about the campaign, and as its been described to me, there was absolutely no daylight between the two men on this front," Morrell told reporters at the Pentagon.

Morrell said the raids of Afghan homes are "politically sensitive" for Karzai but insisted every aspect of the raids, from planning to execution, are done with Afghan input.

"They have officers in our operation centers that are involved in the planning from the very beginning, it goes up through their chain of command for approval," Morrell said. "In each of these operations there is a minimum of seven specially trained Afghan special operations forces along who are in the lead when it comes to announcing, calling, taking the bull horn and asking families to leave their homes peacefully so that we can conduct searches for suspected individuals."

The detente comes as Karzai and Petraeus both head to Lisbon, Portugal, for a meeting of NATO nations about the war in Afghanistan. Karzai meets with President Barack Obama on Saturday.

Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr contributed to this report.