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Afghan, US ties strong: Karzai

Afghan President Hamid Karzai said Tuesday that relations between Kabul and Washington were strong but admitted there was some "light wrestling" between them, especially over civilian casualties.

world Updated: Feb 10, 2009 22:58 IST

Afghan President Hamid Karzai said Tuesday that relations between Kabul and Washington were strong but admitted there was some "light wrestling" between them, especially over civilian casualties.

Karzai, facing re-election this year as criticism of his administration mounts, last week pointed to "serious tensions" with his US allies over the number of civilians being killed in military operations against insurgents.

Asked about this at a press conference, Karzai said: "The fundamentals of our relations are strong, the partnership is strong and it will continue as a strong partnership towards the future."

"The only issue is our concerns on civilian casualties and on the arrests of Afghans and searches of homes (by foreign troops)," he said.

Karzai has in recent months stepped up demands that international troops here to fight Taliban and other militants avoid attacks on Afghan villages, which often cause civilian casualties, and intrusive home searches.

He has long urged the United States, which maintains the main foreign military presence in Afghanistan, to focus its "war on terror" on militant sanctuaries across the border in Pakistan.

"Light wrestling has started between us," Karzai joked, adding though that the issues would be settled and "we will continue our journey with them."

Karzai was elected in Afghanistan's first ever presidential election in 2004 with US backing but this support appears to have cooled.

US President Barack Obama, who has vowed a new focus on Afghanistan this year, said Monday that Kabul's "national government seems very detached from what's going on in the surrounding community."

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