Afghanistan

Karzai's Advisers: Clinton and Kerry

Despite protests from Hamid Karzai and his camp until as late as yesterday, the disputed leader of Afghanistan has agreed to an election runoff—and pressure from U.S. heavyweights may be why he did it. CNN reports that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton wooed Karzai by arguing a second election would only strengthen him; she pointed to predictions she made in televised interviews that he would win the runoff anyway. Clinton also orchestrated operations by phone with Massachusetts Senator John Kerry, who played a crucial role in strategic talks with Karzai. Kerry—who told The Wall Street Journal "He and I are friends"—spent the weekend in Kabul, even forgoing his scheduled return trip to Washington to spend time with both Karzai and his challenger, Abdullah Abdullah. Sources say that Karzai's main objection stemmed from his concern for his large body of Pashtun supporters, who he feared would feel disenfranchised if the results of the previous election were nullified.