"The resignation of Mr. Rumsfeld is their decision and we respect their decision," Karzai told Radio Free Afghanistan. "However, Mr. Rumsfeld is a friend of Afghanistan, a good ally and supporter in the war against terrorism. I have great respect for him. He is a very knowledgeable man, a very smart person, and a very resolute person. And I am proud to have his friendship."
Rumsfeld's resignation was announced on November 8, one day after U.S. midterm elections that President George W. Bush described as a cumulative "thumping" for his Republican Party.
Rumsfeld has served nearly six years as defense secretary. He came into office with a presidential mandate to transform the U.S. military to meet emerging challenges in a role that took on added significance following the terrorist attacks of September 2001.
Rumsfeld was a key cabinet member in the response to those attacks, including the U.S.-led military invasion of Afghanistan to oust the Taliban and disrupt Osama bin Laden and his Al-Qaeda terrorist network.
But U.S. polls suggested widespread voter dissatisfaction with Rumsfeld's handling of the Iraq war.
Bush has nominated former CIA Director Robert Gates to succeed Rumsfeld.