. . . Mr. Karzai underscored cooperation with the United States, but also insisted that Afghans' sense of independence and self-reliance was growing. "No Afghan is a puppet, you know," he said in a Fox News interview. "There is a stronger ownership of the Afghan government and the Afghan people now."
It remained unclear how much his criticisms were intended for Afghan consumption, or whether his meeting with Mr. Bush might be rendered less comfortable than past such encounters, which have generally been portrayed as relaxed and amicable.
His comments, nonetheless, came at a delicate and unexpectedly contentious moment, a day after Mr. Karzai had expressed dismay over reports of abuses of Afghan prisoners - "it has shocked me thoroughly," he said Saturday in Kabul - and as Mr. Karzai's help in eradicating opium poppies in Afghanistan was being questioned by the United States.
Karzai also added some perspective on the claims that Newsweek's item on the descration of the Koran by US interrogators had led to rioting in Afghanistan:
"It was directed at the peace process that we have of inviting back the thousands of the Taliban to come back to their country," he said. "It was actually against the elections in Afghanistan. So we know what was going on there." Parliamentary elections are due in autumn.
Er, a bit of diplomacy may be called for here. I say we send in Bolton.