Washington: The framework for US involvement in Afghanistan after international forces withdraw in 2014 will be the key issues to be discussed on Friday's meeting between the US President Barack Obama and Afghan President Hamid Karzai, the White House said.
"This is not a visit during which President Obama will be making decisions about US troop levels in the immediate future or beyond 2014. It's a visit where the two leaders will be able to consult about those issues, and then in the coming months, President Obama will be able to make those decisions in consultation with his national security team," Deputy National Security Adviser for Strategic Communications Ben Rhodes told reporters during a conference call.
"On the security side, they'll be discussing the 2013 transition and the BSA (bilateral security agreement). They'll also be discussing the political and economic transition that's underway, as well as reconciliation and regional stability," he said.
Rhodes said the Karzai visit comes at a critical moment for the two Presidents to take stock on where they are in the transition and then to provide guidance going forward on a host of issues.
"In 2013, we will be continuing our transition to Afghan security lead, and we, of course, have set in Chicago the objective of having a milestone in 2013 where the Afghans are fully in the lead for security responsibility in the country on the way to the Afghans having full responsibility by the end of 2014, so they'll be discussing the 2013 transition," he said.
"Of course, as it relates to US troops, we completed the full drawdown of our surge in September, bringing us back down to 68,000, the pre-West Point troop levels for the United
States. As we look to 2013, reductions in US troops will continue, but they will be guided by the transition that the two leaders agree upon," he noted.
"Similarly, just as we'll be discussing the 2013 transition, the two leaders will be discussing any potential support for Afghanistan from the United States beyond 2014.
And we are currently in discussions about a bilateral security agreement between the United States and Afghanistan," he said, adding that the nature of US support for Afghanistan beyond 2014 will be focused on two precise missions, training and equipping of Afghan security forces and continued efforts on the counterterrorism front against Al-Qaeda and their affiliates.