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Top US Envoy Meets Afghan Officials in Kabul


The new U.S. envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan has begun his first round of meetings with top Afghan officials in the capital, Kabul.

Richard Holbrooke's itinerary has been tightly guarded, and his talks Friday come just two days after Taliban militants launched deadly attacks on three government ministries.

Reports say Mr. Holbrooke met with Defense and Interior Ministry officials and will hold talks with Afghan President Hamid Karzai later on Friday.

Hours before talks began, Australian defense officials said five Afghan children were killed during fighting between Taliban militants and Australian soldiers.

Australia's military issued a statement Friday saying the incident happened on Thursday as Australian soldiers were clearing a number of homes of insurgents in the southern province of Uruzgan.

President Karzai has said that he supports foreign efforts to battle extremists in his country, but he has blamed the U.S. and other Western allies for not doing enough to reduce the risk to civilians.

In other news, U.S. government auditors say the U.S. Defense Department has failed to track more than one-third (or 87,000) of 242,000 weapons shipped to Afghanistan since December of 2004.

The U.S. Government Accountability Office released its report Thursday, warning that U.S. weapons - including assault rifles, grenade launchers and mortars - may have fallen into militant hands.


Some information for this report was provided by AFP and Reuters.



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