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Afghan President holding key talks in the US.

Summary: Afghan President Hamid Karzai begins state visit to the US, aiming to convince Americans that his country is not a lost cause.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai has begun a four day state visit to Washington DC, aiming to convince Americans that his country is not a lost cause.

He is also seeking US backing for faster negotiations with Taliban leaders, who were in power during the September 11 attacks.

Karzai considers their support essential to reach the objective on ending the war that many allege US retaliation began.

The United States hopes Karzai's visit will bolster ties with the leader that the Obama administration once held at arm's length.

After winning re-election in a tainted vote last year, Karzai seems destined to preside over Afghanistan's political reconciliation and the gradual withdrawal of the US-led forces now holding insurgents at bay.

The Afghan leader has said overtures to the Taliban are crucial but stand little chance of success without the support of the United States and its international partners.

It is unclear how far apart the US and Afghan positions remain, but the Obama administration has shown no sign that it is ready to make peace with top Taliban leadership.

On Monday evening, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton held a small dinner for Karzai and his advisors to begin his visit. US Defence Secretary Robert Gates and National Security Advisor General James Jones also attended.

Karzai's four-day visit includes a review of President Barack Obama's decision to send thousands of reinforcements to Afghanistan in December, ahead of a White House assessment of US strategy planned for the end of this year.

Obama intends to begin withdrawing US forces next summer, although few people think the war will be won by then.

[c] Independent Television News Limited 2010. All rights reserved.

[c] Independent Television News Limited 2009. All rights reserved.

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Publication:Independent Television News Limited (ITN)
Date:May 20, 2010
Words:318
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