U.S. President Barack Obama will meet with Afghan President Hamid Karzai on Friday to continue discussions regarding how quickly to withdraw American troops from Afghanistan, the White House announced Monday evening.
The meeting at the White House marks the first face-to-face meeting between the two leaders since Obama visited Kabul last May to sign a strategic partnership agreement.
A statement from White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said Obama looks forward to welcoming the Afghan delegation to Washington.
Carney said the two leaders would discuss the continued transition in Afghanistan and their shared vision of an enduring partnership between the United States and Afghanistan.
The Afghan military is scheduled to take over the country's security by the end of 2014, with most foreign soldiers expected to withdraw from the country by that time.
The discussions between Obama and Karzai are expected to focus on the speed of the withdrawal as well as any "residual" U.S. security presence.
In remarks at the signing of the strategic partnership agreement, Obama said, "Today, we're agreeing to be long-term partners in combating terrorism, and training Afghan security forces, strengthening democratic institutions and supporting development, and protecting human rights of all Afghans."
"With this agreement, the Afghan people in the world should know that Afghanistan has a friend and a partner in the United States," he added.
Obama also said that reports of tensions between the two leaders were "simply overstated." Karzai also called the relations "strong and well-rooted" but acknowledged that there are times when he and Obama "speak frankly to each other."
During his trip to the U.S., Karzai is also expected to meet with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta.
by RTT Staff Writer
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