News / Asia

Panetta in Afghanistan to Discuss Troop Drawdown

U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta (R) shakes hands with Marine General John R. Allen (L), commander of International Security Assistance Force, upon Panetta's arrival at International Airport, December 12, 2012.
U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta (R) shakes hands with Marine General John R. Allen (L), commander of International Security Assistance Force, upon Panetta's arrival at International Airport, December 12, 2012.
VOA News
U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has arrived in Afghanistan on an unannounced visit that will include talks with President Hamid Karzai.

Panetta arrived in Kabul on Wednesday for consultations with Karzai and top military commanders, including U.S. General John Allen, about troop levels in the country after the international combat mission ends in 2014.

Before arriving in Afghanistan, Panetta told reporters the White House hoped to have a decision soon on the U.S. troop make-up after the withdrawal.

"Part of the reason for this trip is to talk with General Allen and to discuss with him some of the options that are being prepared for the president's considering, with regards to the enduring presence. Our hope is that we can complete that process within the next few weeks," he said.

Panetta traveled to Afghanistan from Kuwait.

About 68,000 U.S. troops remain in Afghanistan. Military officials have called for keeping as many as 15,000 troops in the region after 2014 for training and counterterrorism efforts.

In November, Panetta said the U.S. would need to keep a substantial number of troops in the country to ensure that al-Qaida "never again finds a safe haven."  He did not specify how many troops would be needed to achieve this goal. The U.S. and Afghanistan are in the process of negotiating a bilateral security agreement outlining the future U.S. presence in the country.

The defense secretary also noted a decline in the number of attacks by Afghan security forces against U.S. forces but said these so-called insider attacks remained a concern.

In another development, Afghan and coalition forces say they have arrested a Taliban leader who controlled a group of insurgents who had launched attacks on coalition troops and Afghan forces.

Security forces say the unidentified militant leader was involved in planning a suicide attack when he was arrested in Ghazni province on Wednesday.


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

You May Like

Nigeria Incumbent in Tight Spot as Poll Nears

Muhammadu Buhari is running a strong challenge to Goodluck Jonathan, amid a faltering economy and Boko Haram security worries More

Video Liberia's Almost-Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo tells VOA that despite her fame, life is still a struggle as she waits for government's promise of support to arrive More

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

At least seven different indigenous groups in Ratanakiri depend mainly on forest products for their survival, say they face loss of their land, traditional way of life More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More