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Karzai meets Obama: How will they shape a post-2014 Afghanistan?

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A number of analysts, however, say Afghanistan has come too far since 2001 to disintegrate again into past eras of violence and lawlessness, and that those who fought over Kabul in the 1990s today have vested interests in keeping the peace in the capital.

"It's not important for us, the physical presence of Americans in Afghanistan, the numbers beyond 2014," says Hilaluddin Hilal, an Afghan Air Force general and deputy Interior minister for security until 2005.

"The important thing is a strong partnership and the existence of the US as an ally. We don't want the Americans to take part in the frontline fight against insurgents; we have enough [troops]," says Hilal.

He ticks off a list of complaints voiced by many Afghans: rampant corruption, poor governance with limited capacity, and billions in Western reconstruction aid that often lined pockets instead of creating sustainable, tangible results.

"Now the big problem is disagreement between Karzai and the US – this can create strategic problems for the US and Afghanistan in the future," says Hilal. "Sometimes the president says the reason for insecurity is America itself.... And the Taliban, the president calls them 'brothers,' but they kill innocent people. How can that be? We have no definition of who is the enemy [so] there is no clear strategy about the enemy in Afghanistan."

Mr. Karzai's visit to Washington comes amid news from Afghanistan of yet another "green on blue" attack of a uniformed member of the Afghan Army shooting dead a British soldier on Monday – a reminder of the uncertainties and eroded trust as the US plans to withdraw the bulk of its troops. US forces are part of a 100,000-strong NATO contingent.

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