The issue many Americans will want to hear about this afternoon when President Obama and Afghan President Hamid Karzai take questions from reporters at the White House is how many U.S. military personnel will be staying in Afghanistan after 2014, when the U.S. combat mission there is set to end.
"U.S. commanders in Afghanistan have proposed keeping 6,000 to 15,000 U.S. troops after 2014 to continuing pursuing terrorists and training Afghan security forces. But the White House, which tends to favor lower troop levels than the generals do, says Obama would be open to pulling all U.S. forces out of Afghanistan at the end of 2014."
NPR Pentagon correspondent Tom Bowman put it this way Thursday: American military officials think around 6,000 U.S. troops will remain in Afghanistan after 2014, but White House officials are "looking to keep the numbers lower than the generals." One important factor: the high cost of operations — more than $600 billion in the past decade and $100 billion this year alone — in Afghanistan.
The two leaders are scheduled to begin their joint news conference at 1:15 p.m. ET. It will be streamed by the White House. We'll update this post with highlights. Later today, NPR's Jackie Northam is due to have more on the Obama-Karzai meeting during All Things Considered. Click here to find an NPR station that broadcasts or streams the show.