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As Obama meets Karzai, future troop level in Afghanistan isn't only big issue

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Among those big issues that form the backdrop for Friday’s talks:

The White House insists that “denying Al Qaeda safe haven” is one of Mr. Obama’s two top objectives for long-term US involvement in Afghanistan – the other being to “train and equip” an Afghan military capable of maintaining Afghan sovereignty after NATO departs in 2014. But some critics of administration plans, citing some of the proposals said to be on the table, say the US risks seeing large swaths of the country become once again susceptible to Al Qaeda control.

Some administration officials say Obama is unlikely to keep more than 6,000 troops in the country long-term, while others suggest he is even giving thought to a zero-troops option that would presumably envision carrying out counterterrorism efforts through drones and other remote means.

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