US officials claim that “security concerns” forced the cancellation of today’s planned news conference with Afghan President Hamid Karzai and newly-appointed Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel. The Karzai government, which announced the cancellation, initially chalked it up to a “scheduling conflict.”
Neither of these seems particularly likely, as security concerns have never cancelled such meetings in the past and it is unlikely that, were everything well, Karzai would not simply work things out to meet with a top US official. Rather, the speculation is that the move is related to Karzai’s condemnation of the US in a speech earlier in the day.
In that televised speech, Karzai accused the US of plotting with the Taliban to make the security situation look worse than it is as an effort to convince his government that occupation forces need to remain in large numbers beyond 2014.
The US has regularly seen rounds of tensions with President Karzai, who has sought to blame them when security problems get worse. Whether today’s incident is just the latest in a long line of incidents or something new remains to be seen.