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Afghan president ends U.S. trip with visit to military base

By the CNN Wire Staff
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Afghanistan preparing for own security
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Afghan president Hamid Karzai visits Kentucky military base
  • Karzai has met with Secretary of State Clinton, President Obama
  • Troop visit marks end of trip to U.S. described by Clinton as a success

(CNN) -- Afghan President Hamid Karzai ended his four-day U.S. trip on Friday with a visit to a military base in Kentucky, according to officials.

His visit to Kentucky's Fort Campbell -- where the 101st Airborne Division is preparing to go to Afghanistan -- came after a highly anticipated series of meetings between the Afghan leader and both President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

The visit was Karzai's first to the United States since his controversial re-election and several well-publicized spats between Washington and Kabul.

Clinton on Thursday deemed the visit a success, saying it has helped strengthen the partnership between Washington and Kabul at a critical point in the war against Taliban and al Qaeda extremists.

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Karzai repeatedly expressed thanks to the American people during the week for the sacrifices they have made in his country. He has said Afghanistan will remain a dependable partner with the United States and its allies in the global war on terrorism.

The two governments used the week's visit to portray their sometimes tempestuous relationship as a largely friendly one, paving the way for greater progress in the war against the Taliban and other extremists.

After meeting with Karzai on Tuesday, Clinton conceded that "we will have disagreements time to time," but argued "that is a sign of a mature relationship and a steady relationship."

Clinton said it is unrealistic to expect the two nations to see eye-to-eye on every issue.

"President Obama and President Karzai both understand that the ability to disagree on issues of importance is not an obstacle to achieving our shared objectives, but rather it reflects a level of trust," she said.

Between sessions with Clinton, Karzai met with Obama at the White House on Wednesday.

Obama said he is confident his administration will meet a self-imposed July 2011 deadline to begin a military withdrawal from Afghanistan, but warned that there is "going to be some hard fighting" in the months ahead. He stressed that the United States is in Afghanistan for the long haul.

"This is a long-term partnership," he said. "We are not suddenly, as of July 2011, finished with Afghanistan."