WASHINGTON — Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai spent the second day of his Washington trip meeting with a small group of senators at the Capitol on Wednesday afternoon.
Karzai met with Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., in his Senate office. They were joined by Democratic Sens. Robert Casey of Pennsylvania and Tim Kaine of Virginia as well as Republican Sen. Deb Fischer of Nebraska. Prior to the meeting, McConnell said he hoped the Afghan president’s visit “will be fruitful.”
Karzai arrived in Washington on Tuesday and is scheduled to meet with President Barack Obama on Friday.
“I hope to go back to Afghanistan with what the Afghans expect of me to take back,” Karzai said to reporters before the closed-door meeting.
The Senate is out of session until next week, and most members are out of town, which is why only four senators attended the meeting. Casey is on the Foreign Relations Committee. Fischer and Kaine, both freshmen senators, are on the Armed Services Committee.
Casey posted a video Wednesday evening on his YouTube page, discussing what was said in the closed meeting, which he called “a very honest exchange” on issues like Afghan women’s rights, corruption and the country’s elections in 2014.
“As our forces draw down and he and his government or the new president is leading that country, it can only make progress and stable foundation if there are elections that people can have confidence in,” Casey said of the upcoming Afghanistan elections.
Reports emerged Tuesday that some members of the Obama administration are lobbying to limit the number of troops staying in Afghanistan after 2014 to a few thousand. Karzai was asked before the Senate meeting about what kind of residual force he envisions for his country after 2014.
“I was told by the organizer of the Senate to keep quiet,” he joked.
Karzai said McConnell and other senators will head to Afghanistan on Thursday, and apologized for not being able to host them. Karzai headed to the Pentagon Thursday to meet with Defense Secretary Leon Panetta.