Karzai to Meet Obama and Talk Security, Aid

News - Afghanistan


President Hamid Karzai will fly next week to United State to meet US President Barack Obama and other US officials, the presidential spokesman said.

President Karzai's agenda will focus on five major topics, according to Foreign Minister Zalmai Rasoul, who was summoned to parliament Wednesday.

The bilateral security agreement, currently being negotiated by Afghan and US diplomats; the number of US troops to remain in Afghanistan post-2014, the number of their bases and locations; peace talks; aid mechanisms in the so-called Decade of Transformation between 2014 and 2024; and equipping the Afghan army and air force will be the five main items on his agenda, Rasoul said.

President Karzai is expected to press the US to put Afghanistan in the lead for all peace negotiations with insurgents. The Taliban have only held preliminary talks with US diplomats but have steadfastly refused to speak with the Afghan government.

The trip comes as President Obama and his team are trying to determine the number of US troops to remain in Afghanistan after the withdrawal of all combat forces by the end of 2014. They are reportedly looking at a number between 6,000 and 10,000; there are currently about 66,000 US troops in Afghanistan.

While in the US, Karzai will also meet his intelligence chief, Assadullah Khalid, who was flown to Virginia for specialist treatment after being wounded by a Taliban suicide bomber last December.

Mr Khalid, who survived the attack at a National Directorate of Security guesthouse in Kabul on December 6, 2012, received substantial injuries to the lower part of his body. He was taken to the United States for treatment on December 15.

Karzai's Washington trip was announced during US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta's December visit to Kabul.


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