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President Barack Obama, Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai meet on Afghan withdrawal

11:12 AM, Jan 11, 2013   |    comments
President Obama and Hamid Karzai in 2012(Photo: MANDEL NGAN, AFP/Getty Images)
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Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai arrived at the White House on Friday to talk with President Obama about the pace of withdrawal of U.S. troops from his war-torn nation.

Obama, Karzai and their staffs have a string of meetings before lunch; the two presidents have a brief news conference scheduled for 1:15 p.m.

"The President looks forward to welcoming the Afghan delegation to Washington, and discussing our continued transition in Afghanistan, and our shared vision of an enduring partnership between the United States and Afghanistan," said a White House statement.

With the U.S. and its allies scheduled to end combat operations in 2014, American and Afghan officials are discussing the possibility to maintaining a U.S. residual force in Afghanistan.

Some U.S. commanders have proposed keeping 6,000 to 15,000 troops in Afghanistan after 2014, to keep battling terrorists and training Afghan forces.

Some Obama aides want a faster draw down and a much smaller U.S. presence at the end -- some have even discussed a "zero option."

There are currently 66,000 troops in Afghanistan.

Karzai, who wants a relatively large residual force in Afghanistan, has also met this week with Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta. This is his first talk with President Obama since a video conference on Sept. 21.

There have been tensions between the Obama and Karzai governments. Karzai has criticized the American military over civilian deaths in the war; Obama and aides have complained of corruption within Karzai's government.

USA Today

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