News - Afghanistan


President Hamid Karzai has met the head of the National Directorate of Security (NDS), Asadullah Khalid, who is currently undergoing treatment at a hospital in the United States.

Asadullah Khalid, who survived a suicide attack at an NDS guesthouse in Kabul on December 6, incurred serious injuries to the lower parts of his body. He was taken to the United States for treatment on December 15.

"Following the arrival, President Karzai paid a visit to the hospital in Washington where Asadullah Khalid, Afghanistan's Director of National Security, is receiving medical care and closely checked on his condition," Karzai's office said in a statement.

"Khalid's doctors briefed the President on the treatment and described his health condition as stable," it said.

Karzai and his accompanying delegation arrived in Washington on Tuesday.

He also visited US soldiers in hospital after sustaining wounds in Afghanistan.

"The President wished for their rapid recovery and gave them Afghan gifts," the statement said.

On his three-day visit, Karzai is scheduled to hold separate meetings with President Barack Obama, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Secretary of Defence Leon Panetta and a number of other senior officials.

Karzai and Obama will discuss a range of issues, including the security and economic transitions.

But the White House on Tuesday has said that Obama's planned meeting this week with President Karzai is not meant to set troop levels in Afghanistan beyond 2014, when the US combat role is slated to end.

"The president does not view these negotiations as having a goal of keeping US troops in Afghanistan," the New York Times quoted US Deputy National Security Adviser Benjamin J. Rhodes as saying.

The meeting between the two leaders on Friday comes as the US and Afghan governments are negotiating a security agreement for the post-2014 period.

In a conference call with reporters, Rhodes said that leaving no troops "would be an option that we would consider."

Discussing the administration's objectives, Mr. Rhodes said the "core goal" of the United States was to "disrupt, dismantle and defeat Al Qaeda" and to "ensure that they can never return to Afghanistan."

To that end, American military officers in Kabul and at the Pentagon have been developing plans for a commando force that could carry out raids against terrorist groups.

Such a force would also need logistical support and arrangements for rapid medical evacuation, as well as helicopters that could whisk them to the battlefield and warplanes that could carry out airstrikes if they needed additional firepower, the New York Times reported.

Another objective, Mr. Rhodes said, would be to "ensure that Afghan national security forces are trained and equipped."

There are around 66,000 US troops and 37,000 troops of other nations fighting insurgents in Afghanistan.

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