Washington, 30 Safar 1434/12 January 2013 (Aljazera/MINA) – United States President Barack Obama and Afghan President Hamid Karzai are set to meet at the White House to discuss the future of the US role in Afghanistan.
Obama and Karzai have announced plans for a joint news conference on Friday afternoon.
White House officials say Obama will not announce any decisions on the next phase of troop withdrawals or whether any US forces will stay behind in Afghanistan after the war formally ends in 2014.
US commanders in Afghanistan have proposed keeping 6,000 to 15,000 US troops after 2014 to continue pursuing armed groups and training Afghan security forces.
The White House tends to favor lower troop levels than military generals.
Officials say Obama would be open to pulling all US forces out of Afghanistan at the end of 2014.
Beyond troop levels, Obama and Karzai are also expected to discuss preparations for next year’s Afghan elections and the prospects for advancing Afghan peace talks with the Taliban.
Friday’s meeting will be the first between Obama and Karzai since November’s U.S. presidential election. Heading into his second term, Obama is shaking up his national security team, including key players who deal with Karzai and the war.
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta are both expected to leave their posts within weeks. The president nominated Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., as the nation’s top diplomat and former Sen. Chuck Hagel, R-Neb., to lead the Pentagon. (T/R-12/R-006)
Mi’raj News Agency (MINA)