Outgoing U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates says that Washington has often been guilty of not paying enough heed to Afghan President Hamid Karzai during the war in Afghanistan that has been continuing for almost a decade.
"Frankly, I think that we have often not done a very good job of listening to President Karzai," he said. "The problems that he often raises in public are problems that he has often raised with us a year or two years before in private."
Gates, who will retire at the end of June, was testifying on June 15 before lawmakers on the Senate Committee on Appropriations' subcommittee on defense.
As an example, Gates cited controversy surrounding the U.S. use of private security contractors in Afghanistan, saying, "We knew in Iraq that private security companies are a problem in these countries, and we should have begun this transition to Afghan oversight of these companies a long time ago."
Gates also said that Karzai informed him of his intention to step down in 2014, as required by Afghanistan's constitution. There has been speculation in the past that Karzai might attempt to change the rules to allow him to remain in office.