US President George W. Bush welcomed Afghan President Hamid Karzai who arrived at Camp David, a presidential retreat of the United States on Sunday.
The two leaders are expected to discuss some issues of mutual interests including the war on terror, counter narcotics and the US contribution towards rebuilding of the post-Taliban Afghanistan.
In addition, the fate of 21 South Korean hostages held by the Taliban is also likely to be high on the agenda for the two days of discussions.
Taliban militants who abducted 23 South Koreans on July 19, have shot dead two of them so far and vowed to execute the remaining if the afghan government fails to meet their demand which includes the release of their eight Taliban comrades.
The Associated Press said that Karzai chatted briefly with a few of Bush's top aides, including Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Defense Secretary Robert Gates. Then Bush drove him away in a golf cart.
Bush and Karzai are expected to have an official meeting Monday morning. And a joint press conference follows after the talks.
US government officials have described the meeting as a private "strategy session" between partners and a chance to reiterate unwavering US support for Karzai's beleaguered government.
Afghanistan, under the leadership of President Hamid Karzai, is a strong US ally. However, Afghanistan has been struggling with a resurgent Taliban and persistent narcotics trade.
More than 2,200 people have been killed in bloody conflicts in Afghanistan since the beginning of this year.
At least 600 Afghan civilians have been killed in insurgency-linked violence this year, half of them by international forces, according to statistics used by the United Nations.
Last year saw the worst fighting since the Taliban were toppled in 2001 as they regrouped, with the help of safe havens and training grounds across the border in Pakistan and money from drug lords fattened by record opium crops.
It was reported that more than 4,000 people died in fighting last year, a quarter of them civilians.
The Taliban claimed that 2007 will be the bloodiest year for foreign troops yet, saying they have thousands of enthusiastic suicide bombers ready for action.
Prior to his meeting with Bush, Karzai told CNN that "The security situation in Afghanistan over the past two years has definitely deteriorated. There is no doubt about that."
In the hunt for leader of the al-Qaida Osama bin Laden, the United States and its allies have essentially gotten nowhere lately, Karzai said, noting "We are where we were a few years ago."
In addition to Afghanistan issues, Bush and Karzai were reportedly to discuss Afghanistan's relationship with neighboring Pakistan and Iran. Karzai said the penetration of foreign militants from Pakistan into Afghanistan has become a concern that he will address soon with Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf.
On Iran, Karzai said he is investigating reports that Iran is fueling violence in Afghanistan by sending in weaponry such as sophisticated roadside bombs.
But he insisted that "Iran has been a supporter of Afghanistan, in the peace process that we have and the fight against terror, and the fight against narcotics in Afghanistan."
The Afghan top leader said that Afghanistan and Iran had "very, very good, very, very close relations. ... We will continue to have good relations with Iran."
(Xinhua News Agency August 6, 2007)