The First Draft: Kerry reports in after Kabul visit
Senator John Kerry, who once aspired to host meetings in the Oval Office, will be visiting President Barack Obama in that room Wednesday to talk about his recent trip to Afghanistan.
Kerry, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, was credited with playing a key role in convincing Afghan President Hamid Karzai to agree to a second round of voting in a disputed national election.
A picture of him whispering into Karzai’s ear on Tuesday was splashed across the major U.S. newspapers on Wednesday and news programs gave detailed reports on Kerry’s behind-the-scenes shuttle diplomacy.
ABC news said over the last five days in Afghanistan, Kerry acted more like a secretary of state than a senator as he played a central role in brokering the agreement with Karzai and his main rival Abdullah Abdullah.
In Kabul on Tuesday after hours of talks with Karzai, Kerry said the Nov. 7 run-off would be difficult and made a point to praise the Afghan leader for endorsing the vote.
Now Kerry has a chance to give advice and his impressions to Obama, who has been meeting with his war council to make a decision on whether to send more troops to Afghanistan. Obama administration officials have stressed that a credible and legitimate government in Kabul is essential for Washington to be able to succeed in Afghanistan.
A new Washington Post-ABC News public opinion poll showed that Americans are evenly and deeply divided over whether Obama should send 40,000 more troops to Afghanistan, as requested by his top military commander there.
The poll showed 47 percent in favor of a troop buildup in Afghanistan while 49 percent oppose it. The survey also found a large majority of Americans believe the administration lacks a clear plan for dealing with the problems in Afghanistan.
Photo credit: Reuters/Ahmad Masood (Kerry and Karzai at news conference in Kabul)