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Afghan Leader Karzai Threatens to Join Taliban

The Afghan leader is not concerned that the U.S. might abandon him, having said numerous times that the U.S. would not leave Afghanistan because it perceives a presence here to be in its national interest.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai threatened over the weekend to quit the political process and join the Taliban if he continued to come under outside pressure to reform, several members of parliament said Monday.

Karzai made the unusual statement at a closed-door meeting Saturday with selected lawmakers — just days after kicking up a diplomatic controversy with remarks alleging foreigners were behind fraud in last year’s disputed elections.

Lawmakers dismissed the latest comment as hyperbole, but it will add to the impression the president — who relies on tens of thousands of U.S. and NATO forces to fight the insurgency and prop up his government — is growing increasingly erratic and unable to exert authority without attacking his foreign backers.

“He said that ‘if I come under foreign pressure, I might join the Taliban’,” said Farooq Marenai, who represents the eastern province of Nangarhar.

White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said reports Karzai threatened to abandon the political process and join the Taliban insurgency if he continued to receive pressure from Western backers to reform his government are troubling.

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2010-04-05

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