Obama said the U.S. had anticipated "there were going to be some areas of friction, to put it mildly, in getting this thing off the ground. That's not surprising. They've been fighting there for a long time" and mistrust is rampant.
Karzai said Wednesday that peace talks cannot begin amid "fighting and bloodshed." But Obama said it was important to pursue a parallel track toward reconciliation even as the fighting continues, and it would up to the Afghan people whether that effort ultimately bears fruit.
On another world trouble spot, the 2-year-old Syrian civil war, the president declined to provide details on the type of military support the U.S. will provide to opposition forces. But he said the administration had been consistent in working toward the over-riding goal of a Syria that is "peaceful, non-sectarian, democratic, legitimate, tolerant."
"I cannot and will not comment on specifics around our programs related to the Syrian opposition," he said.
The president said while world leaders at the just-completed Group of 8 summit in Northern Ireland could not agree on whether Syrian President Bashar Assad must go, he believes Assad cannot regain legitimacy.
And the president offered reassurances on another issue of particular concern in Germany. In response to a question from a German reporter, Obama said the United States doesn't use Germany as a launching point for unmanned drones to strike terrorist targets. He said he knows there have been some reports in Germany speculating that was the case, but it's not so.
Later Wednesday, Obama planned to draw attention to his plan for a one-third reduction in U.S. and Russian arsenals, rekindling a goal that was a centerpiece of his early first-term national security agenda.