STATE DEPARTMENT —
Afghan President Hamid Karzai and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton met in Washington on Thursday to discuss the future of U.S. support for Afghanistan following next year's withdrawal of American forces.
State Department officials say President Karzai and Secretary Clinton discussed security and economic transitions in Afghanistan, greater regional integration, and preparations for Afghanistan's 2014 elections.
Spokeswoman Victoria Nuland says the United States, Afghanistan and Pakistan also are working to reconcile the government in Kabul with more moderate elements of the Taliban.
"We have had some modest steps forward in recent months, including a commitment by Pakistan to support Afghan-Afghan reconciliation, some of the work we've been doing in the core group -- U.S., Afghanistan, Pakistan -- to pave the way and ease the conditions for those Taliban who might need safe passage to go have conversations," Nuland said.
Secretary Clinton hosted a working dinner for President Karzai at the State Department, where they were joined by U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and National Security Advisor Tom Donilon.
In meetings earlier Thursday at the Pentagon, Secretary Panetta told President Karzai that their countries have come a long way toward a shared goal of establishing an Afghanistan that never again will become a "safe haven for terrorism."
U.S. troops invaded Afghanistan and toppled the Taliban government there following the 2001 terrorist attacks in New York and Washington.
Although President Karzai often has criticized U.S. actions in Afghanistan, he also has spoken about his desire for some U.S. troops to remain after the NATO-led mission there ends next year.
President Karzai is scheduled to meet with President Barack Obama at the White House on Friday.