KABUL, Afghanistan - Gen. David Petraeus began his tenure in Afghanistan yesterday by calling for "unity of effort" among U.S. civilian and military officials and cooperation between the larger NATO alliance to achieve the goals of beating back the Taliban insurgency and bolstering the Afghan government.

In his first remarks in Kabul before he officially assumes his position today as the top American commander in Afghanistan, Petraeus said that "in this important endeavor, cooperation is not optional."

"Civilian and military, Afghan and international, we are a part of one team, with one mission," he told a gathering of hundreds of guests at the U.S. Embassy in Kabul in a Fourth of July ceremony. The comments by Petraeus and U.S. Ambassador Karl Eikenberry sought to set a tone of renewed partnership between military and civilian officials in Afghanistan. During the past year, tensions in this relationship emerged as an obstacle to the American effort and culminated in the firing of Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal last week after he and his staff made disparaging comments about senior Obama administration officials, including Eikenberry, in a Rolling Stone magazine article.

Yesterday, Eikenberry lightened the mood by calling Petraeus, his former West Point schoolmate and fellow Army Ranger, a "great friend." Eikenberry told Petraeus at the ceremony: "You are welcome at this embassy, as we say, 24-7." Petraeus replied, "I want you to know that it's a privilege to be your Ranger buddy in this critical endeavor."

This visit, Petraeus said, reminded him that "this is an effort in which we must achieve unity of effort and common purpose. . . . This is a tough mission, there is nothing easy about it."

Meanwhile, military officials will need Pentagon clearance for interviews and other dealings with reporters, according to an order from Defense Secretary Robert Gates that was first reported by The New York Times website Friday night. With AP

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