May 21st, 2012

Karzai on the cost of the war, his relationship with Pres. Obama and more

CNN lead political anchor Wolf Blitzer sat down with Afghan President Hamid Karzai for an exclusive wide-ranging interview today in Chicago. Pres. Karzai talked with Blitzer about the cost of the war, Karzai’s personal relationship with President Obama, negotiations with the Taliban and much more. This full interview is scheduled to run in the 5 p.m. ET hour of The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer. A highlight from the interview is after the jump and a full transcript will be posted on http://archives.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/2012.05.21.html.

EMBEDDABLE VIDEO: Why US lawmaker denied entry in Afghan
http://cnn.com/video /data/2.0/video/world/2012/05/21/tsr-karzai-congressman-roehrbacher.cnn.html

Highlight from the Interview
THIS IS A RUSH FDCH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED

HAMID KARZAI, PRESIDENT OF AFGHANISTAN:  No, we didn’t have a three-way meeting, we had a three-way photograph taking.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN:  Just a photo opportunity?

KARZAI:  Just a photo opportunity.

BLITZER:  Why not a meeting?  Why not have a three-way meeting and discuss the most important issues facing Afghanistan, Pakistan and the United States?

KARZAI:  It wasn’t for us to decide on the three-way meeting.  The United States was the host and perhaps they saw it fit for some other time.

BLITZER:  Has Pakistan agreed to resume shipments, trucks bringing supplies to nato, U.S. troops in Afghanistan?

KARZAI: I believe they’re negotiating with the United States on that question.

BLITZER:  They have been negotiating a long time.  But as far as you know, as  of right, there’s no agreement?

KARZAI:  Not to the extent that I know.

Highlight from the Interview

THIS IS A RUSH FDCH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED

BLITZER:  I was shocked recently when I heard that you denied permission to an American congressman, Dana Rohrabacher, a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee subcommittee chairman.  He was with a congressional delegation about to fly from Dubai into Kabul and you said you’re not going to elect this democratically elected congressman into your country.  Why?

KARZAI:  A democratically elected congressman of the United States of America should not be talking off an ethnic divide in Afghanistan, should not be interfering in Afghanistan’s internal affairs, should not be asking the Afghan people to have a federal structure.  That’s against what the Afghan constitution has asked for.  Should not be speaking disrespectfully about the Afghan people or the various ethnic groups in Afghanistan.  If an Afghan did that from Afghanistan, how would you react to him in America?

BLITZER:  So you’re not going to let him back into your country?  Dana Roharbacher?

KARZAI:  Definitely not.

BLITZER:  Ever?

KARZAI:  Until he changes his tongue, until he shows respect to the Afghan people, to our way of life, and to our constitution.  No foreigner has the place asking another people, another country, to change their constitution.  Have we ever asked the United States to change?

BLITZER:  Even after all that America has done for Afghanistan?

KARZAI:  That doesn’t give you the right to play with our lives.

BLITZER:  And you think he’s that dangerous to you?

KARZAI:  Not dangerous.  It’s a matter of principle.  International relations are based on certain principles.  We are not America.  We are Afghanistan.

BLITZER:  But there is a concept known as freedom of speech.

KARZAI:  Freedom of speech is good.  We respect that.  But the freedom of speech with regard to other countries is another issue.  He has freedom of speech within the United States and we have freedom of speech within Afghanistan.  But if an Afghan member of parliament stood up and said the United States should be divided in five different regions, would you accept that?

BLITZER:  One historic footnote.

Do you believe they were protecting bin Laden in Abbottabad?

KARZAI:  Well, he — he — he was killed in Abbottabad.  Now, whether he had official protection is something I can’t tell.

BLITZER:  What do you think?

KARZAI:  It’s really difficult to say one way or the other.  But where he was, how could he have been without some knowledge of him there?

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