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Obama And Karzai Meet

President Barack Obama listens as Afghan President Hamid Karzai speaks during a news conference in the East Room at the White House in Washington, January 11, 2013.

Consultations reaffirmed the historic strategic partnership between both countries.

President Barack Obama and Afghan President Hamid Karzai had successful consultations at the White House recently to reaffirm the historic strategic partnership between both countries and to review progress on security, economic, and political transitions underway in Afghanistan.

Obama And Karzai Meet
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Soon, said President Obama, nearly 90 percent of Afghans will live in areas where Afghan forces are in the lead for their own security. Indeed, by spring, Afghan security forces are expected to assume the operational lead across the country, and NATO forces will transition to a train-advise-support role.

With the devastating blows that have been struck against al Qaeda, "our core objective," said President Obama, "is now within reach: ensuring that al Qaeda can never again use Afghanistan to launch attacks against our country. At the same time, we pushed the Taliban out of their strongholds. Today, most major cities -- and most Afghans -- are more secure, and insurgents have continued to lose territory."

Afghanistan’s economic strategy is focused on developing sustainable growth and fiscal self-reliance. At the same time, President Karzai stressed the critical importance of Afghan commitments to a stable, democratic society, based on the rule of law.

President Karzai committed to holding free, fair, and inclusive elections in April of 2014, saying that proper elections would be his greatest achievement and that he looked forward to being a retired president. Independent Afghan institutions are to lead election preparations and implementation.

Afghan-led peace and reconciliation is the best way to end violence and ensure the lasting stability of Afghanistan and the region. Any agreement with the Taliban must guarantee the constitutional rights of all Afghans, both men and women. Moreover, in the end the Taliban and other armed opposition groups must agree to end violence, break ties with al-Qaida, and accept Afghanistan's constitution.

Both Presidents reaffirmed the Strategic Partnership signed last year in Kabul. This sends a clear message to Afghans and to the region, as Afghans stand up, they will not stand alone; the United States, and the world, stands with them.

The mission in Afghanistan, said President Obama, remains difficult. "Our forces continue to serve and make tremendous sacrifices every day. The Afghan people make significant sacrifices every day. Afghan forces still need to grow stronger. We remain vigilant against insider attacks. Lasting peace and security will require governance and development that delivers for the Afghan people and an end to safe havens for al-Qaida and its ilk. All this will continue to be our work."