|Visiting Afghan President Hamid Karzai (L) and U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta attend a welcome ceremony before their meetings at the Pentagon outside Washington D.C., the United States, Jan. 10, 2013. (Xinhua/Zhang Jun)
WASHINGTON, Jan. 10 (Xinhua) -- Afghan President Hamid Karzai on Thursday met with U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta at the Pentagon to discuss the security transition in Afghanistan.
At a press conference after the meeting, Panetta said he had an hour-long, one-on-one meeting with Karzai to discuss "the ongoing transition to Afghan security lead, as well as the commitment of the United States to Afghanistan" after the completion of the transition by the end of 2014.
Panetta said both leaders believe the transition plan is " working, and we're fully committed to finishing the job," and they believed they are "moving in the right direction."
At a welcoming ceremony earlier in the day, Panetta assured Karzai of continued U.S. commitment as the last chapter of security transition has begun. According to U.S. President Barack Obama's withdrawal plan, U.S. combat forces will be out of Afghanistan by the end of 2014, after transferring security lead to the Afghans.
Meanwhile, the two countries are negotiating a bilateral security agreement that would define the U.S. role in Afghanistan post-2014. Karzai, who will meet Obama on Friday, said at the Pentagon he believed 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."