President Barack Obama looks on as Afghan President Hamid Karzai speaks during a meeting in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington, DC, on January 11, 2013. (image credit: Jewel Samad/AFP/Getty)
David Jackson, USA TODAY
Afghan President Hamid Karzai arrived at the White House on Friday to talk with President Obama about the pace of withdrawal of U.S. troops from his war-torn nation.
Obama, Karzai and their staffs have a string of meetings before lunch; the two presidents have a brief news conference scheduled for 1:15 p.m.
"The President looks forward to welcoming the Afghan delegation to Washington, and discussing our continued transition in Afghanistan, and our shared vision of an enduring partnership between the United States and Afghanistan," said a White House statement.
With the U.S. and its allies scheduled to end combat operations in 2014, American and Afghan officials are discussing the possibility of maintaining a U.S. residual force in Afghanistan.
Some U.S. commanders have proposed fewer than 10,000 troops in Afghanistan after 2014, to keep battling terrorists and training Afghan forces.
Some Obama aides want a faster drawdown and a much smaller U.S. presence. Senior administration officials even said earlier this week it's possible that no residual force will be left behind in Afghanistan.
There are currently 66,000 troops in Afghanistan.
Karzai, who wants a relatively large residual force in Afghanistan, has also met this week with Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta. This is his first talk with President Obama since a video conference on Sept. 21.
There have been tensions between the Obama and Karzai governments. Karzai has criticized the American military over civilian deaths in the war; Obama and aides have complained of corruption within Karzai's government.