Tales from the Trail

Holbrooke: my relationship with Karzai is good, really

November 5, 2009

Absolutely they are on good terms…

Richard Holbrooke, special U.S. representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, once again declared his respect for Afghan President Hamid Karzai. AFGHANISTAN/

In fact, he feels so strongly about reports that the two don’t get along he wrote a letter to The Washington Post.

“I did not, and never have, spoken harshly to Mr. Karzai, ” said Holbrooke in the letter to the editor, which was published on Thursday. He was responding to a story earlier this week in the newspaper which said he had spoken harshly to the re-elected Afghan leader.

“As for my relations with President Karzai, whom I have known for more than five years, they remain cordial, correct and respectful,” added Holbrooke, who is known for his combative style. He said the same last month when he was pressed about his relations with Karzai.

Holbrooke wrote in the letter that he had been in direct contact with Karzai since he was declared the winner of the fraud-plagued Afghan election this week.

Holbrooke is expected to travel to Afghanistan soon. No date yet. Stay tuned.

Holbrooke was last in Afghanistan in August for the election when diplomats said he delivered a strong message to Karzai about corruption, telling him the United States wanted more from the Afghan leader if he won.

But in his letter, Holbrooke said he had also made very clear to Karzai that he “looked forward to continuing our close cooperation” with him and his government.

Look for lots of public smiles and handshakes when Karzai and Holbrooke meet in Kabul. What happens behind closed doors, we’ll tell you later.

Photo credit: Reuters/Omar Sobhani (Karzai and Holbrooke shake hands in Kabul in February)

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