The Obama administration once again is troubled and "frustrated" by Afghan President Hamid Karzai, who reportedly is threatening to align with the Taliban while accusing the United States of meddling in his country's affairs.
President Obama's top spokesman suggested the trouble with Karzai could endanger U.S. military operations in the country. He was reacting to comments Karzai made Saturday during a private meeting with Afghan lawmakers. They came after Karzai and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton tried to patch things up Friday following a similar outburst earlier in the week in which he accused Western governments of sabotaging his election.
"I said it was troubling on Friday. Obviously, it didn't get any better," Gibbs said.
The latest spat between the two administrations came as American-led forces in Kabul admitted to killing three Afghan women during a February raid -- after NATO initially claimed the three women were found "tied up, gagged and killed" when the Special Operations team got there. The International Security Assistance Force now says the team "accidentally killed" the three women while firing on two men who appeared "hostile," though were later determined not to be insurgents. The men were also killed -- NATO now says it appears the men were merely trying to protect their families.
"The men were not the targets of the operation, but were armed and displayed hostile intent. All regrettable," Rear Adm. Greg Smith, the top military spokesman in Kabul, told Fox News. "That said, there is absolutely no evidence that the forces covered anything up."
A NATO statement said it was initially concluded that the women were killed because of a misunderstanding of "Islamic burial customs," an apparent reference to the condition in which the women were found.
But The New York Times reported Monday that officials have offered conflicting accounts of whether there was evidence of "tampering" at the scene. One official said there were signs of bullets removed from the walls nearby. Another report from The Times of London said Afghan investigators found the team dug bullets out of the bodies of the women.
Any hint of a cover-up could embolden Karzai at a time when he's trying to flex his independence and portray Western governments as detrimental to his country.
The Wall Street Journal reported that Karzai on Saturday told local officials that the Taliban could gain strength if the United States doesn't stop meddling and even suggested he would join with them if his government doesn't support him in taking control of the United Nation's election watchdog in his country.
That meeting came just one day after the Afghan president called Clinton to clarify his controversial comments from earlier in the week. A senior State Department official told Fox News at the time that the two "reached a good understanding regarding his comments" and were focused on "moving ahead."
Gibbs said Monday that he doesn't "put a lot of stake into everything that he said," and that the White House is still focusing on working with the Karzai administration.
He said the meeting between Obama and Karzai set for May 12 in Washington is still on the schedule.
Fox News' Mike Emanuel contributed to this report.