WASHINGTON — In a new indication of strained relations, the White House said Tuesday it would consider canceling an upcoming visit by Afghan President Hamid Karzai if he continues to make troublesome remarks. Such a move would be a remarkable diplomatic slap likely to infuriate the mercurial leader.
Despite the public reproach, senior administration officials said the tough statement was really meant as a warning and a sign of Washington's continued unhappiness with the Afghan leader's comments. The officials, one of whom described it as "a shot across the bow," said canceling Karzai's invitation was not being seriously considered, at least not yet.
The officials spoke on condition of anonymity to describe the administration's strategy, which they were not authorized to discuss publicly.
Karzai has infuriated the White House with accusations that the United Nations and the international community interfered in last year's fraud-tarnished presidential election in Afghanistan. He also threatened to join the Taliban insurgency if the US continues pressuring him publicly to do more to end graft, cronyism and electoral fraud, more comments that stunned US officials.