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U.S.-Afghan Talks To Discuss Troops Level

U.S. Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter (L) and Afghanistan's president, Ashraf Ghani, talk with journalists during a joint press conference in Kabul on February 21.

The pace of the U.S. military exit from Afghanistan will be among topics discussed next week in meetings between U.S. President Barack Obama with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah.

Current plans call for a U.S. drawdown to 5,500 troops by the end of this year, but the United States has suggested it might keep more troops in Afghanistan next year.

Jeff Eggers of the White House's National Security Council said on March 20 the United States still intends to pursue its longer-term withdrawal strategy, which calls for a U.S. security cooperation office in Kabul beyond 2016 of about 1,000 U.S. troops.

Ghani and Abdullah will travel to Washington on March 22 for several days of talks with senior U.S. officials. Defense issue, Afghanistan's economic transition and reconciliation talks with the Taliban are expected to be discussed.

Based on reporting by AP, DPA