[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/WORLD/asiapcf/10/16/clinton.afghanistan/art.clinton.speaks.cnn.jpg caption="Hillary Clinton lauds the president's patience and persistence while deciding about troop strength."]
WASHINGTON (CNN) - With a runoff presidential election in Afghanistan appearing likely, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told CNN Friday that she expects the current president, Hamid Karzai, will win.
"It is likely that they will find that President Karzai got very close to the 50-plus-1" in August's balloting, she said in an exclusive CNN interview, referring to the 50 percent plus one vote needed to avoid a runoff. "... I think one can conclude that the likelihood of him winning a second round is probably pretty high."
Clinton said the timing of President Barack Obama's decision on whether to commit more troops to the fight in Afghanistan will not hinge on the election results. "I think the president is expecting to make a decision on his own timetable," she said, "when he is absolutely comfortable with what he believes is in the best interest of the United States."
Karzai faces allegations of corruption and vote fraud in the election, but the secretary of state sidestepped a question of whether he is a "reliable" partner for the United States and the international community. Administration officials have said that without a reliable partner, a counterinsurgency effort in Afghanistan would not succeed.