Rumsfeld makes surprise Afghan visit

US Secretary of Defence Donald Rumsfeld has arrived in Afghanistan on an unannounced visit expected to include talks with President Hamid Karzai.

    Rumsfeld is expected to meet with President Hamid Karzai

    Rumsfeld arrived at the US base in the southern city of Kandahar on Wednesday, US military spokeswoman Lieutenant Cindy Moore said.

     

    Moore provided no details of his schedule, although an Afghan government spokesman said Rumsfeld also was expected in the capital, Kabul, for talks with Karzai.

     

    Officials in neighbouring Pakistan said Rumsfeld was expected in Islamabad later on Wednesday for meetings with the president, General Pervez Musharraf, and other leaders.

     

    The visit comes as US and Afghan officials discuss a "strategic partnership", possibly including permanent base for the US military, which continues to broaden its role in Afghanistan.

     

    Training programme

     

    US commanders recently agreed to provide intelligence on targets for a crackdown on the country's illegal narcotics industry, the world's largest, and to extend training of the new Afghan army to include the police.

     

    US and Afghan officials are
    eyeing a 'strategic partnership'

    Rumsfeld may press Kabul and Islamabad - key allies in Washington's "war on terrorism" - to improve relations clouded by the ability of Taliban-led fighters to launch attacks in Afghanistan from safe havens in Pakistan.

     

    US officials repeatedly have called on Karzai to announce a reconciliation programme to encourage former Taliban to lay down their arms and support the government in return for freedom from prosecution.

     

    But Karzai has resisted, apparently because of opposition within his government and his wish to extend the programme to other parties in the country's long civil wars.

     

    Officials say a few dozen former Taliban members have come forward, but none appears to have much influence over the rebels still fighting the 17,000-strong US force in Afghanistan and its Afghan allies.

    SOURCE: Agencies


    YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

    Visualising every Saudi coalition air raid on Yemen

    Visualising every Saudi coalition air raid on Yemen

    Since March 2015, Saudi Arabia and a coalition of Arab states have launched more than 19,278 air raids across Yemen.

    Lost childhoods: Nigeria's fear of 'witchcraft' ruins young lives

    Lost childhoods: Nigeria's fear of 'witchcraft' ruins young lives

    Many Pentecostal churches in the Niger Delta offer to deliver people from witchcraft and possession - albeit for a fee.

    Why did Bush go to war in Iraq?

    Why did Bush go to war in Iraq?

    No, it wasn't because of WMDs, democracy or Iraqi oil. The real reason is much more sinister than that.