News Column

Obama, Karzai Discuss Future of US-Afghan Alliance

Jan. 11, 2013

US President Barack Obama met his Afghan counterpart Hamid Karzai behind closed doors at the White House Friday as Washington weighs its role in Afghanistan after the withdrawal of international combat troops in 2014.

The leaders were to discuss the "continued transition in Afghanistan, and our shared vision of an enduring partnership between the United States and Afghanistan," the White House said.

Vice President Joe Biden and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton were also among those taking part in the talks.

Obama and Karzai were to hold a press conference after the series of meetings later Friday.

The Afghan leader met Thursday with Clinton and Defence Secretary Leon Panetta.

Panetta said after the talks that he and Karzai "believe very strongly" that the security transition plan adopted last year by NATO is working. "We are committed to finishing the job," the defence chief said.

Panetta declined to answer questions about troop levels after 2014, saying only that several options had been presented to the White House.

Speculation had swirled earlier in the week over the possibility of a complete withdrawal, after Obama's national security spokesman refused to "rule out any option" on post-2014 troop levels. Media reports this week have said the US was considering troop levels from between a few thousand to up to 20,000 soldiers.

The US currently has 68,000 soldiers in Afghanistan, and NATO forces in the country have been reported at an additional 30,000.

Source: Copyright 2013 dpa Deutsche Presse-Agentur GmbH

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