Panetta, Allen talk Afghan transition
WASHINGTON (PAN): US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta on Tuesday held a video conference with Gen. John Allen, commander of US and NATO troops in Afghanistan, in preparation for his meeting with visiting Afghan President, Hamid Karzai.
Before the two leaders meet on the ongoing peace process and US troop levels in 2014, Panetta had a good discussion with Gen. Allen on the situation in Afghanistan, Pentagon Press Secretary George Little told a news conference.
The defense secretary believed that Allen continued to do a very effective job in prosecuting US efforts there toward transition, he said. “Substantial progress has been made on his watch,” he said.
Giving an insight into Thursday’s meeting between Panetta and Karzai, Little exuded confidence it would be a good interaction. “We expect this to be a wide-ranging discussion on a number of issues, and it's not just about troop levels beyond 2014.
“It's about how we work together to prosecute the war effort, how we work together with our ISAF partners, how we look to the capabilities of the ANSF and how to continue to grow them. So there's a lot on the table, a lot of work to be done, and we are confident that progress will be made,” he said.
President Karzai would receive full honours welcome on the parade field just outside the river entrance prior to his meetings with Secretary Panetta and Chairman (of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen Martin) Dempsey, Little told Pentagon correspondents.
Panetta and Karzai will also visit the 9/11 Memorial to honour and remember the 184 people who lost their lives when Al Qaida attacked the United States. The next day, Panetta will also participate in meetings with Karzai on Friday at the White House.
“This visit, of course, provides an opportunity to discuss the ongoing transition to Afghan security lead and our enduring commitment to Afghanistan following completion of transition at the end of 2014,” he said.
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