WASHINGTON — President Obama greeted Hamid Karzai's election victory with as much admonishment as praise on Monday, saying he must make serious efforts to end corruption in Afghanistan's government and prepare his nation to ultimately defend itself.
"I emphasized that this has to be a point in time in which we begin to write a new chapter," Obama said in describing his phone call to the Afghan president. When Karzai offered assurances, Obama said, he told him that "the proof is not going to be in words. It's going to be in deeds."
Obama's message of stern solidarity came as he considers sending tens of thousands more U.S. troops into the war zone in Karzai's country.
Karzai won a second term Monday when competitor Abdullah Abdullah pulled out of the Nov. 7 runoff, suggesting it would be doomed by fraud just as the first voting in August was. The handling of the first election cost Karzai in international credibility.
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Yet the White House put its weight behind the legitimacy of the final outcome after helping to broker a runoff that never happened. Obama called the process "messy" but said Karzai won in accordance with Afghan law.
The White House repeatedly said Abdullah had pulled out for his own political and personal reasons.
The collapse of the planned run-off increases pressure on the Obama administration to quickly end its lengthy deliberations about whether to commit more U.S. forces to a worsening war. Obama may announce his revamped war strategy, including a decision on sending more troops, early next week before a planned overseas trip.
White House press secretary Robert Gibbs acknowledged that Karzai's win by default is a factor in the coming decision about troops but did not say the timetable for an announcement has changed. The administration continues to say it will happen in the "coming weeks."