New Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel departed Afghanistan Monday morning after a trip marred by violence and surprising comments from American's supposed ally, Afghan President Hamid Karzai.
Karzai claimed the United States was working with the Taliban as part of a secret plan to keep foreign troops in Afghanistan. Hagel disputed those claims.
"I told the president it was not true that the United States was unilaterally working with the Taliban in trying to negotiate anything," Hagel said. "I think he understands where we are and where we've been and hopefully where we're going together."
"When a nation would be at any time looking at the possibility of engaging an enemy that they're still at war with, that's difficult," he added.
Steve Bucci, director of the Allison Center for Foreign Policy Studies at The Heritage Foundation, shared his thoughts on Karzai's remarks and the possible fallout on CBN's Newswatch, March 11. Watch Here.
U.S. officials say they have no explanation for Karzai's remarks and insist there are no back-channel talks with the Taliban.
"President Karzai has never said to me that the United States was colluding with the Taliban. All I can do is speak for the coalition to tell you that it's categorically false, and that we have no reason to be colluding with the Taliban," Marine Gen. Joseph Dunford, the commander of the International Security Assistance Force, said.
During his first Afghan trip as defense secretary, Hagel also had to deal with a series of violent attacks.
A joint news conference between Hagel and Karzai was canceled because of concerns about security. The Afghan government said two suicide bombers killed 17 people on Saturday.
There are about 66,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan and combat forces are scheduled to fully withdraw by the end of next year.