Obama, Karzai Meet at White House

Posted January 11th, 2013 at 10:50 am (UTC-5)
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Afghan President Hamid Karzai has arrived at the White House to meet with President Barack Obama for talks on the future role of the United States in Afghanistan.

One of the main issues they are expected to discuss is the number of American soldiers who remain in Afghanistan after 2014. International troops are expected to transfer combat operations to Afghan forces at the end of 2014.

Currently, there are about 66,000 U.S. troops and several thousand other international soldiers in Afghanistan.

The plan to reduce the U.S. force hinges on a number of conditions, including whether Afghan forces will be able to take over security at that time. It is also unclear what will be the role of the Americans who stay behind.

Mr. Obama and Mr. Karzai will meet for about two hours and then have lunch together. They are scheduled to hold a news conference after lunch.

On Thursday, Mr. Karzai met with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta.

Panetta told Mr. Karzai that the U.S. and Afghanistan have come a long way toward making sure Afghanistan will never again become a safe haven for terrorism.

Panetta said more than 10 years of the U.S.-led war against al Qaeda and its allies, the Taliban have paved the way for Afghanistan to stand on its own.

Mr. Karzai expressed appreciation for the years of support from the U.S. and Afghanistan's other allies.

While Mr. Karzai has often criticized U.S. actions in Afghanistan, he also has spoken about his desire for some U.S. presence to remain.

Mr. Karzai will wrap up his events in Washington Friday evening with a speech at Georgetown University.