WASHINGTON – President Hamid Karzai (search) of Afghanistan says he's satisfied that the Bush administration has remained focused on helping stabilize his country, but he wants NATO to do more.
"To fulfill the promise that we have been made, we are hoping that NATO will come to Afghanistan before the elections of September," he said Monday at a news conference with Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld (search).
Karzai was delivering a speech to a joint meeting of Congress on Tuesday before meeting with President Bush (search) at the White House.
NATO (search) already is commanding the International Security Assistance Force in Kabul, the Afghan capital, as well as a reconstruction operation in the northern city of Kunduz. The alliance has pledged to expand its security operations to cities elsewhere in the war-torn country this summer.
Karzai and Rumsfeld addressed reporters beside a memorial plaque on a section of the Pentagon's western wall, where American Airlines Flight 77 slammed into the building on Sept. 11, 2001, killing all 64 aboard the hijacked plane and 125 people in the building.
Asked about the chances of capturing Usama bin Laden, whose Al Qaeda network is blamed for the attacks on New York and Washington, Rumsfeld said he was certain he would be caught eventually. Karzai said bin Laden was on the run and could not stay hidden indefinitely.
"Has a fugitive run forever? No, at least not in my country," he said. "We will catch him one day, sooner or later."
Karzai, who is president by vote of a loya jirga, or grand council, under traditional Afghan practice, is running for the presidency in the September election against a number of challengers.
He said he was satisfied that the U.S. government has remained focused on its commitment to help Afghanistan establish a national government and to rebuild from years of war.
"We would not be having a specific request for more U.S. troops in Afghanistan," he said. "The United States is already busy in Afghanistan helping us in reconstruction and helping us fight terrorism and helping us secure our borders."
The United States in recent months has increased its force in Afghanistan, which now stands at about 20,000 troops.
Karzai seemed to hint at being weary of the heavy U.S. military presence in his country. As a helicopter flew overhead, prompting Karzai to interrupt his opening remarks, he said with a smile while pointing to the sky, "You see that too often in Afghanistan."