US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton kicked off a day of closed talks with Afghan government leaders by assuring President Hamid Karzai that the U.S. will remain committed to his country's security and reconstruction long after the last American combat troops have departed. "We will not abandon the Afghan people. Our civilian commitment will remain long into the future," Clinton said, with Karzai at her side in the ornate Benjamin Franklin room at the State Department. Clinton and Karzai both offered opening remarks, stressing the positive but also acknowledging that sharp differences have complicated efforts to stabilize Afghanistan and set the stage for an end to the war. "The ability to disagree on issues of importance to our respective countries and peoples is not an obstacle to achieving our shared objectives," Clinton said. "Rather, it reflects a level of trust that is essential to any meaningful dialogue and enduring strategic partnership."