Afghan pres­i­dent to meet with Obama

Austin American-Statesman - - THE SECOND FRONT - By Robert Burns as­so­ci­ated press su­san WALSH / ap u.s. SOL­DIER KILLED by bomb

KABUL, AfghAnIsTAn — Pres­i­dent Hamid Karzai said Thurs­day that he will meet Pres­i­dent Barack Obama in Washington next month to dis­cuss a post­war role for the United States in his coun­try.

At a news con­fer­ence with vis­it­ing De­fense Sec­re­tary Leon Panetta, Karzai said he and Obama will dis­cuss how many U.S. troops will re­main af­ter the West­ern com­bat mis­sion ends in De­cem­ber 2014.

He said he un­der­stands that im­mu­nity from Afghan laws for those re­main­ing Amer­i­cans is of “im­mense im­por­tance” to Washington, but he added that he has his own pri­or­i­ties in ne­go­ti­at­ing a post­war U.S. role.

“Give us a good army, a good air force and a ca­pa­bil­ity to project Afghan in­ter­ests in the re­gion,” Karzai said, and he would be ready to ar­gue “with ease and with rea­son” that his coun­try should grant im­mu­nity to U.S. troops.

Obama has said the U.S. will not aban­don Afghanistan and risk that it might re­vert to the al-Qaida haven it be­came in the 1990s af­ter the Tal­iban came to power.

He has not in­di­cated what size and scope of post-2014 mil­i­tary mis­sion he thinks is nec­es­sary and

A Tal­iban sui­cide car bomber killed one Amer­i­can sol­dier and two Afghan civil­ians Thurs­day near a U.s. mil­i­tary base shortly af­ter the vis­it­ing U.s. de­fense sec­re­tary left the fa­cil­ity in south­ern Afghanistan, of­fi­cials said.

The at­tacker tar­geted a mov­ing ve­hi­cle near the ac­cess gate to the mil­i­tary side of Kan­da­har’s air­port, ac­cord­ing to Afghan De­fense Min­istry spokesman gen. Mo­ham­mad Zahir Az­imi.

It was un­clear whether the blast had any­thing to do with U.s. De­fense sec­re­tary Leon Panetta’s unan­nounced visit to Kan­da­har Air field ear­lier Thurs­day. The sprawl­ing fa­cil­ity houses more than 20,000 ser­vice mem­bers from 20 coun­tries and has more than 11,000 civil­ian con­tract work­ers. af­ford­able.

The Tal­iban are a small but re­silient force, even af­ter 11 years of fight­ing a vastly larger U.S.-led in­ter­na­tional force.

The Karzai-Obama meet­ing would be dur­ing the week of Jan. 7, Panetta said.

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