Kerry Will Host Afghans and Pakistanis

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BRUSSELS -- Secretary of State John Kerry said Monday that he would host a meeting in Brussels on Wednesday with top Afghan and Pakistani leaders.

The meeting will be held the day after NATO foreign ministers gather to discuss the alliance's role in Afghanistan after 2014, among other issues.

President Hamid Karzai and Defense Minister Bismillah Khan Mohammadi will represent the Afghan side. Pakistan will be represented by Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, the Army chief, and Jalil Abbas Jilani, Pakistan's foreign secretary.

"This is the year of transition," Mr. Kerry told a gathering of American diplomats here. "This is the critical year in Afghanistan."

He added: "We are going to have a trilateral and try to talk about how we can advance this process in the simplest, most cooperative, most cogent way so that we wind up with both Pakistan's and Afghanistan's interests being satisfied -- but most importantly with a stable and peaceful Afghanistan."

Afghan security forces have begun taking the lead in combat operations against the Taliban this year, and they are coming under more intense attack than ever before, according to anecdotal evidence gathered by an independent study group, the Afghanistan NGO Safety Office.

At the same time, relations between Mr. Karzai and his American allies have been increasingly strained, even as the two countries negotiate the shape and scope of any lasting American military presence in Afghanistan past 2014. Mr. Karzai has been especially critical of American Special Operations forces and clandestine intelligence missions in recent weeks -- both of which have been identified by American officials as critical parts of the war effort.

world

This article originally appeared in The New York Times.


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