January 11, 2013
President Barack Obama and Afghan President Hamid Karzai agreed on Friday to speed up the handover of combat operations in Afghanistan to Afghan forces this year, underscoring Obama’s determination to move decisively to wind down the long, unpopular war.
Signaling a narrowing of differences, Karzai appeared to give ground in White House talks on U.S. demands for immunity from prosecution for any U.S. troops who stay in Afghanistan beyond 2014, a concession that could allow Obama to keep at least a small residual force there.
Both leaders also threw their support behind tentative Afghan reconciliation efforts with Taliban insurgents. They each voiced support for the establishment of a Taliban political office in the Gulf state of Qatar in hopes of bringing insurgents to inter-Afghan talks.