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Holbrooke missing from Afghan talks
More recently, Mr. Holbrooke also has been blamed by some for not anticipating and blunting an uproar in Pakistan over a $7.5 billion U.S. aid package that included language some in Pakistan said infringed on their country’s sovereignty.
Mr. Kerry, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, visited Pakistan to apply balm to that wound in between visits to Kabul.
White House press secretary Robert Gibbs on Tuesday omitted Mr. Holbrooke’s name while giving credit for a “process toward legitimacy” in Afghanistan, praising Mr. Eikenberry, Mr. Kerry and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, who called Mr. Karzai on Monday to push him toward a runoff.
P.J. Crowley, assistant secretary of state for public affairs, said Mr. Holbrooke has been “at the heart of the execution of the policy that the president enunciated in March.”
However, the current review is intended to revise the March strategy.
Holbrooke staffers have worked 16 to 18 hours a day, seven days a week, for the past three weeks, trying to satisfy requests for information from the White House, a source close to the process said.
But Mr. Holbrooke, who is known for his love of the press, has been noticeably absent from the public eye. Ms. Bommer said her boss has not been instructed to refrain from talking to reporters, but did not indicate when he would begin again.
Mr. Clemons said Mr. Holbrooke is being made a fall guy for an “absence of presidential vision and clarity.”
“Holbrooke was loyal to the vision that Obama laid out last March, which proved to be an ineffective, incomplete and semidisconnected,” Mr. Clemons said. “Some people are trying to pin on Richard the deteriorating situation in Afghanistan and the relationship with Karzai, but all of that was deteriorating before.”
• Barbara Slavin contributed to this report.
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