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`Productive` Afghan talks show deep US friendship: Kerry

 US Secretary of State John Kerry on Monday hailed a day of "productive" talks with new Afghan leaders, as Washington vowed an "unwavering" commitment to strong ties with Afghanistan.



Washington: US Secretary of State John Kerry on Monday hailed a day of "productive" talks with new Afghan leaders, as Washington vowed an "unwavering" commitment to strong ties with Afghanistan.

"Today`s productive meetings underscore the enduring nature of the... friendship," Kerry told reporters after day-long talks at the remote presidential retreat of Camp David, in Maryland.

The depth of the relationship showed how the two nations have "grown closer after 14 years of shared sacrifice" since the 2001 US-led invasion ousted Taliban militants from Kabul.

The talks had come at a "critical moment" as Afghan forces take over responsibility for the country`s security, amid resurgent violence by Taliban and Al-Qaeda militants.

Defense Secretary Ash Carter said the US administration would be asking Congress to fund the Afghan security troop levels at "an end strength level of" 352,000 through 2017.

"The United States maintains an unwavering commitment to a strong and strategic partnership with Afghanistan," Carter said.

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani again thanked US troops for their sacrifice during the past 14 years.

But he made it clear that any decision about future US troop levels in Afghanistan would be made by President Barack Obama.

Obama will host Ghani on Tuesday at the White House and is expected to address speculation about the pace of a scheduled withdrawal of the 10,000-strong US force left in Afghanistan.

Both Ghani and US commanders have asked for scaling back the tempo for the troop drawdown.

Asked how many American forces he would like to see remain, Ghani said: "The question of numbers is a decision for the president of the United States, and that decision will be made by Obama."

From Zee News

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