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Karzai, NATO backing general

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KABUL – Afghan President Hamid Karzai gave a strong endorsement yesterday to embattled General Stanley McChrystal, describing him as the “best commander” of the war and expressing hope that he keeps his job despite a magazine profile replete with derogatory comments about President Barack Obama and members of the United States national strategy team. While Obama’s relationship with Karzai has sometimes been rocky, McChrystal has cultivated the Afghan leader, encouraging him to visit remote areas of the country and assume responsibility for military operations against the Taliban. Karzai’s chief spokesman said the Afghan leader believes McChrystal is a person of “great integrity” and had displayed a very good understanding of the Afghan people and the Afghan culture.“The president believes that General McChrystal is the best commander that NATO and coalition forces have had in Afghanistan over the past nine years,” spokesman Waheed Omar said. Omar said McChrystal had worked closely with Karzai since he took command last year and that “lots of things have improved”. McChrystal also received a vote of confidence from the secretary-general of NATO, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, who appeared concerned over the impact of a possible change of command at a time of rising casualties and faltering political support within allied capitals.“The Rolling Stone article is rather unfortunate, but it is just an article,” the alliance said in a statement issued in Brussels, Belgium. “We are in the middle of a very real conflict, and the secretary general has full confidence in General McChrystal as the NATO commander, and in his strategy.” (AP)