FILE - In this May 20, 2012, file photo, President Barack Obama, right, shakes hands with with Afghan President Hamid Karzai, left, during their meeting at the NATO Summit in Chicago. The Obama administration gave the first explicit signal Tuesday, Jan. 8, 2013, that it might leave no troops in Afghanistan after December 2014, an option that defies the Pentagon's view that thousands of troops may be needed to keep a lid on al-Qaida and to strengthen Afghan forces. Karzai is scheduled to meet with Obama at the White House on Friday. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais, File)
WASHINGTON (AP) - President Barack Obama and Afghan President Hamid Karzai say in a statement that the U.S. military mission in Afghanistan is expected to shift to a support role later this spring - a few months earlier than expected.
Obama and Karzai were speaking at a news conference Friday, after meeting at the White House on the future of the U.S. role in Afghanistan and the 66,000 American troops serving there.
The leaders say in a joint statement that the military mission will shift from combat to support in the spring. That was originally expected to take place in the summer.
They say at the time of the milestone, most unilateral U.S. combat operations should end, with U.S. forces pulling back their patrols from Afghan villages.
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