Pentagon Officials Welcome Afghan President for Talks
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Jan. 10, 2013 The Pentagon pulled out all the stops in welcoming Afghan President Hamid Karzai to meetings with Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta here today.
U.S. Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta hosts an arrival ceremony with full honors to welcome Afghan President Hamid Karzai to the Pentagon, Jan. 10, 2013. DOD photo by U.S. Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Chad J. McNeeley
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
Karzai received a full-honors arrival ceremony, including a 21-gun salute, and toured the Pentagon 9/11 Memorial before meeting with Panetta and other defense leaders. Karzai meets with President Barack Obama and senior administration officials tomorrow.
Karzai departed a bit from ceremony during the arrival event. As he trooped the line, he stopped before the American flag and bowed as a sign of respect.
Panetta welcomed Karzai to the Pentagon, saying that the last chapter of establishing a sovereign Afghanistan has begun. All senior U.S. and NATO officials agree, he added, that “what we are doing in partnership [with Afghanistan] is, indeed, succeeding.”
Continued partnership is needed even in this final chapter, the secretary said, as the transition to Afghan security responsibility continues this year. “I want to commend you on the bravery and the skill of your forces,” Panetta said to Karzai. “They are demonstrating -- alongside the United States and coalition forces every day -- the bravery, the courage and the capability to provide the security you need in order to ensure a safe future for your nation.”
The United States will assist the people of Afghanistan, Panetta said. “We have sacrificed together,” he noted. “That has created a bond that will not be broken in the future.”
The Afghan president said he is pleased he will announce the last areas and provinces that will shift to Afghan control later this year. “I thank you and our allies for providing Afghanistan the assistance that was needed in the past 11 years and for training and equipping Afghan forces,” he said. “I can assure you, Mr. Secretary, that Afghanistan will, with the help that you provide, be able to provide security to its people and to protect its borders so Afghanistan would not ever again be threatened by terrorists from across our borders.”
Karzai said he believes the United States and Afghanistan can work out the way forward for a bilateral security agreement “that will ensure the interests of Afghanistan, and also the interests of the United States.”