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Obama, Karzai discuss transition process in Afghanistan

By Lalit K Jha
May 21, 2012 09:54 IST
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United States President Barack Obama on Sunday met his Afghan counterpart Hamid Karzai to discuss the transition process in Afghanistan.

"We recognise the hardship that the Afghan people have been through. Both of us recognise that we still have a lot of work to do. The loss of life continues in Afghanistan. There will be hard days ahead, but we are confident that we are on the right track," Obama told reporters in a joint press meet following the meeting between the two leaders.

Stating that the Afghan people "desperately want peace and security," Obama said the United States and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation will continue to provide support for Afghan security forces during this transition.

Obama said the process is "also painting a vision post-2014 in which we have ended our combat role, the Afghan war as we understand it is over, but our commitment to friendship and partnership with Afghanistan continues."

Referring to his recent visit to Afghanistan, Obama said during that trip to Afghanistan, they were able to finalise the partnership agreement that reflects a future in which two sovereign nations "are operating as partners to the benefit of our countries' citizens but also for the benefit of peace and security and stability" in the region.

Obama said the NATO summit is going to be largely devoted to ratifying and reflecting the broad consensus that so many of their partners and ISAF members have agreed to".

In his brief remarks, Karzai said the two leaders "had a good meeting today in which Afghanistan reaffirmed its commitment" to the transition process.

He said that it's important to complete the process "so that Afghanistan is no longer a burden" on the international community, the US and other allies.

Karzai agreed with Obama that Afghanistan is very much "looking forward to an end to this war," and spoke of the country's desire for "self-reliance."

He said it was important that the allies help Afghanistan take "steady and strong steps" on that road.

This was Obama's first of the few bilateral meetings that have been planned on the sidelines of the NATO Summit in Chicago, which is being attended by leaders from more than 60 countries.

Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari is attending the summit at the invitation of the NATO Secretary General. The White House on Sunday said that no bilateral meeting has been planned between Zardari and Obama.

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Lalit K Jha In Washington
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