U.S. Defense Secretary arrives in Afghan capital

13:52, June 05, 2011      

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U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates is greeted upon his arrival in Kabul by U.S. General David Petraeus, right, Commander of International Forces in Afghanistan, Saturday June 4, 2011. (Xinhua/Reuters Photo)

U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates arrived here on Saturday on a surprise visit to Afghanistan, amid tightened security in Afghan capital city Kabul.

A local TV channel Tolo reported that Gates arrived in Kabul on Saturday afternoon.

However, according to an Afghan official of presidential palace who declined to give his name, "Robert Gates is in Afghanistan and later today he will meet Afghan President Hamid Karzai."

Gates also paid a surprise visit to Afghanistan earlier this year.

The Pentagon chief arrived in Afghanistan when earlier Saturday four NATO soldiers were killed in the insurgency-hit country.

The military alliance confirmed in a statement Saturday's casualties occurred in restive eastern provinces where mainly troops from the Untied States are stationed.

More than 140,000 NATO-led soldiers with over 90,000 of Americans have been stationed in Afghanistan to help stabilize security in the war-torn nation.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai announced on March 22 the transferring security responsibility from NATO and U.S. forces to Afghan security forces will begin this July and be completed by the end of 2014.

Taliban-led insurgency has been rampant since the militant group announced on April 30 to start spring offensive against Afghan and NATO-led forces.

Source: Xinhua
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