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Anti-Taliban Offensive in Kandahar to Begin in June


U.S. officials say international forces in Afghanistan plan to launch an anti-Taliban offensive in southern Kandahar province in June.

The officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, say the goal is to push the Taliban out of Kandahar city before the Muslim holy month of Ramadan begins in August.

After a similar offensive in neighboring Helmand province, NATO forces are working to consolidate control over territory formerly held by the Taliban.

U.S. Admiral Mike Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, arrived in Afghanistan Tuesday to survey the conflict there.

His visit came a day after President Barack Obama made a brief trip to Afghanistan, where he pressed Afghan leaders to fight corruption and improve governance.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai pledged his country would eventually take over its own security. The White House says President Karzai will visit Washington on May 12.

President Obama also met with U.S. military officers and troops at the Bagram air base north of Kabul. He said the U.S. mission in Afghanistan is clear: to disrupt, dismantle, defeat and destroy al-Qaida and its extremist allies.

Mr. Obama stressed the importance of the troops' mission, saying it is essential to America's security. He said U.S. lives would be at risk if the Taliban regains control of Afghanistan.

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

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