Hillary Clinton: Karzai Is a Reliable Partner

In spite of recent strained relations between Kabul and Washington, Afghan President Hamid Karzai will still visit President Obama at the White House on May 12, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said on CBS' "Face the Nation."

"And we're looking forward to his visit," Clinton told host Bob Schieffer in an interview conducted Friday at the Pentagon. "We consider him a reliable partner."

The White House last week suggested it might cancel Karzai's visit because of their frustration from some of his recent remarks. [Karzai accused the international community of interfering with the presidential election in Afghanistan last year, and he threatened to join the Taliban insurgency if the U.S. continues to pressure him about government corruption.]

A former U.N. envoy to Afghanistan, Peter Galbraith, even suggested that Karzai may have a substance abuse problem.

Also appearing on "Face the Nation," Secretary of Defense Robert Gates reiterated Clinton's assurance with Karzai.

"This statement about the drugs and so on is just stupid," Gates told Schieffer.

He added that Karzai is playing a key role in military efforts to win control of Kandahar, the birthplace of the Taliban, by talking with tribal leaders and local officials to get their views and concerns.

"President Karzai is playing a very constructive role in beginning to set the framework for the Kandahar campaign ... So the working relationship with him on a day-to-day basis is still going quite well." Gates said. "He's already made a couple of these trips to the Kandahar area with General [Stanley] McChrystal, and so he is very much participating in setting the stage, if you will, for this next phase of the campaign."

Clinton said it is not uncommon for world leaders to misinterpret reports from the American press as signals from the White House. That can complicate communications when there are critical reports about a nation or leader coming from the press, as there have been about Karzai.

"A leader often thinks it wouldn't be printed if the government weren't behind it," she said. "And so we do have explaining to do, if you will. And that's not just true in Afghanistan - we see that in many different countries around the world."