US Defense Secretary visits Afghanistan

Indo Asian News Service

Washington, April 24 (IANS) US Secretary of Defense James Mattis arrived in Afghanistan on Monday to discuss the countrys security situation with political and military leaders.

Mattis is expected to meet Afghanistan's President Ashraf Ghani and other top government officials. He will also be visiting the headquarters of Operation Resolute Support, the NATO-led mission to train and advise Afghan security forces, CNN reported.

Mattis's visit comes just days after an attack on the country's northern army base that left at least 140 Afghan soldiers dead.

The Taliban claimed responsibility for Friday's raid at Camp Shaheen near Mazar-e-Sharif city, with a spokesman telling CNN it was revenge for the deaths of Taliban shadow Governors for Kunduz and Baghlan provinces.

Mattis was also due to meet Afghan Defence Minister Abdullah Habibi, but hours before he touched down in Kabul, Ghani announced that Habibi and Army Chief of Staff General Qadam Shah Shahim had resigned with immediate effect.

Mattis's visit to Afghanistan follows meetings in Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Israel, Qatar and Djibouti.

The US Defense Department said his tour is aimed at reaffirming key US military alliances, engaging with strategic partners and discussing cooperation to counter-terrorism.

--IANS

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