President Obama and Afghan President Hamid Karzai have a full schedule Friday at the White House, where they will discuss ongoing negotiations about how rapidly to withdraw remaining U.S. troops in Afghanistan, and what the United States' role might be in the nation after 2014.
The day will begin in the Oval Office, which Obama will open to Karzai and his delegation for bilateral meetings to discuss "our continued transition in Afghanistan, and our shared vision of an enduring partnership in the United States and Afghanistan," according to a White House press release. Vice President Joe Biden will then join an expanded bilateral meeting in the Cabinet Room.
A "working lunch" in the president's private dining room is on tap for the afternoon, followed by a joint press conference with Obama and Karzai in the East Room.
In a conference call with reporters Tuesday, the White House's deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes said the president and Karzai are "not going to finalize that decision" with regard to how many troops, if any, will remain in Afghanistan following the war's official drawdown at the end of next year. Rather, they plan to "reach a common understanding of how we can achieve" mutual objectives for the post-2014 relationship."
Karzai will end his day at Georgetown University, which he will visit for the third time, delivering a speech on the future of Afghan-U.S. relations at 5:30 p.m. EDT.
On Thursday, Karzai met with Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, who said in a Pentagon press conference later in the day: "We have poured a lot of blood and treasure into this war. We have made a lot of progress as a result of sacrifice by our people, and we're not gonna walk backward." Karzai then had meetings at the Pentagon, followed by a sit-down at the State Department with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
In a dinner that followed, hosted by Clinton - "a great opportunity for us to attempt, in a very humble way, to repay some of the hospitality I've enjoyed over the years," she said during a photo-op before the dinner - the secretary of state could be heard telling Karzai about President Obama's recent nomination of former Sen. Chuck Hagel, R-Neb., to replace Panetta.