US Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama discussed terrorism, corruption and drugs at a meeting with Afghan President Hamid Karzai yesterday, day two of a trip meant to bolster his foreign policy credentials.
Obama has previously criticized Karzai, who has led Afghanistan since US-led and Afghan forces toppled the hardline Islamist Taliban in 2001, but said the purpose of this trip was to listen rather than deliver strong messages.
Television pictures showed a relaxed Obama, at the heavily guarded presidential palace in Kabul, talking to Karzai, flanked by fellow senators Chuck Hagel and Jack Reed, and Afghan ministers.
The two sides talked about the problems facing Afghanistan and the region, Karzai's spokesman said, including terrorism, corruption and record-breaking Afghan drugs production.
"We discussed things at the broad level, we did not discuss in details, but Senator Obama conveyed his commitment to ... supporting Afghanistan and to continue the war against terrorism with vigour," said spokesman Humayun Hamidzada.
The Illinois senator will also visit Iraq, Jordan, Israel, Germany, France and Britain on a foreign tour he hopes will help answer Republican criticism that he does not have the experience to be commander-in-chief of the armed forces.
Obama criticized Karzai last week in an interview with CNN.
"I think the Karzai government has not gotten out of the bunker and helped to organize Afghanistan, and the government, the judiciary, police forces, in ways that would give people confidence. So there are a lot of problems there," he said.
Karzai has come under increasing criticism at home and abroad for not taking tough action to clamp down on rampant corruption, tackle former warlords and stamp out record-breaking drug production - all factors feeding the Taliban insurgency.