Obama: Karzai remains "a critical partner" in the fight against terrorism; NATO Chief: NATO gets very good cooperation from Karzai; Romania announces increase in troops level to 1,800; Taliban attacks Indian camp in Afghanistan;
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  • President Obama stated that Afghan President Hamid Karzai remained "a critical partner" with the US in the fight against terrorism despite Mr. Karzai’s recent harsh criticism of the West. Obama stated that if the US is to ensure that Afghanistan is not a haven for extremist organizations, it must succeed on military and civilian fronts and that Mr. Karzai will have to be a major player in these efforts. Mr. Karzai had earlier charged that the UN and the international community had interfered in last year's presidential elections.1 NATO Secretary- General Anders Fogh Rasmussen in a speech at the University of Chicago also stated that NATO had "very good cooperation from President Karzai and his government and such cooperation is essential for our strategy in Afghanistan."2

    Romanian President Traian Basescu meanwhile announced that Romania will increase its troop levels in Afghanistan to 1,800 from 1,073 by September 2010.3

    Taliban militants attacked an Indian road construction camp in eastern Afghanistan in Khost province's Domanda district, burning vehicles and equipment. No deaths or injuries have however been reported, according to the Afghan interior ministry.4

    Reports noted that while Pakistan's security forces worked with American forces to detain Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar and other insurgents, the ISI was involved in freeing at least two senior Afghan Taliban figures which it had captured on its own. The incident, another proof of support of Taliban activities by the ISI, was detected by American spy agencies but was not publicly disclosed.5

    A majority of Wolesi Jirga (lower house of parliament) members on April 7 rejected the annual budget due to ‘discrimination in allocation of development spending for some provinces.' Around 115 parliamentarians out of the total 122 present raised 'red cards' to disapprove the budget. Earlier, Finance Minister Hazrat Omar Zakhelwal presented the developmental budget worth 115 billion Afghanis for general expenses and 82 billion Afghanis for developmental activities.6

    The chairman of the Independent Election Commission (IEC) Azizullah Lodin and the Chief Electoral Officer Daud Ali Najafi resigned from their positions on April 7. President Karzai accepted their resignations. Karzai's spokesman told reporters that while Mr. Lodin's term was over, he did not reveal the reason for Mr. Najafi's resignation.7

    Addressing a news conference in Kabul attended by around 400 representatives from southern provinces, Gen. McChrystal stated that US troops would remain in Afghanistan as long as the Afghans need them.8

    In other developments, a US Air Force CV-22 Osprey airplane crashed in southern Afghanistan on April 9, killing three American military personnel and one civilian. The Taliban claimed that they had had shot down the Osprey with small-arms fire but Afghan officials denied the claim.9