Senior members of Barack Obama’s administration have been trying to repair the troubled relationship between the US and Afghan president Hamid Karzai.
Mr Karzai and US General Stanley McChrystal met hundreds of elders in Afghanistan’s Kunduz on Sunday, the third such trip in recent days, in what NATO says is part of its strategy of emphasising the Afghan government’s role in military efforts.
The Obama administration had been upset when Mr Karzai accused foreigners of instigating election fraud and of trying to weaken him.
But US secretary of state Hillary Clinton praised the Afghan leader, calling him a “reliable partner”.
“I personally have a lot of sympathy for president Karzai and the extraordinary stress he lives under every single minute of every day,” she said.
US defence secretary Robert Gates said Mr Karzai was being very helpful.
“The fact is on a day-to-day basis he has a very effective working relationship with General McChrystal.”
The Afghan leader is due to visit Washington next month.
In a sign of the volatility of a once-peaceful northern region, plans for Mr Karzai to address German troops in Kunduz were called off at the last minute.
Residents and German forces said rockets had fallen near the German base there.
Kunduz has seen a surge in Taliban attacks and is expected to become a main battle front in coming months.