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John Kerry, the chairman of the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee and a former US presidential candidate, has hailed the importance of a major new US-led military assault on Taliban fighters in southern Afghanistan.

Kerry told Al Jazeera on Saturday that the offensive, launched earlier that day, is important because it includes "a very significant Afghan component" of troops fighting alongside Nato forces.

But unlike other offensives, Kerry said this time the strategy is different, with the aim of paving the way for more independent Afghan leadership.

His comments came in a wide-ranging interview with Al Jazeera's James Bays, in which Kerry also discussed issues of US relations with Pakistan and Iran's nuclear ambitions.

Source: Al Jazeera