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US envoy to meet Afghan president

world Updated: Feb 14, 2009 23:45 IST

President Barack Obama’s new envoy to Afghanistan met with the Afghan foreign minister on Saturday, hours ahead of a planned meeting with President Hamid Karzai that comes amid a downturn in US-Afghan relations.

Envoy Richard Holbrooke has met with Afghan lawmakers and officials, international military leaders and UN diplomats during a fact-finding trip for Obama that began Thursday.

Holbrooke, the US envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan met Foreign Minister Rangeen Spanta today, and was to meet later with Karzai. Holbrooke has made no public comments during the Afghan leg of his trip. He previously visited Pakistan and also is to stop in India.

Taliban militants have increased attacks and swept up wide areas of countryside over the last three years, and the US is contemplating sending up to 30,000 more American forces to back up the 33,000 already in Afghanistan.

Obama has said the US will increase its attention on Afghanistan under his tenure as the US transitions out of Iraq.

But the administration is still debating how to stem the Taliban tide and tackle the endemic corruption in Karzai’s government more than seven years after the 2001 invasion.

Karzai told al-Jazeera television in an interview yesterday that he still has not spoken with Obama almost a month after his inauguration.