US Defense Secretary arrives in Kabul
The International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) press office confirmed in a phone interview that Panetta will meet with President Karzai, Afghan Defence Ministry officials, and other Afghan authorities.
He will also meet with the ISAF commanders and members of the US armed forces, including Army Gen. David Petraeus, the commander of US Forces in Afghanistan as well as of ISAF.
Panetta replaced Robert Gates at the helm of the Pentagon on Jul. 1, 2011. Petraeus will succeed him as head of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), and be replaced by Marine General John R. Allen. Ryan Crocker will replace Karl Eikenberry as the US Ambassador to Afghanistan.
In an in-flight press conference, Panetta expressed hope that President Barack Obama’s new Afghanistan team, and Panetta’s own first visit to Afghanistan, would “be the beginning of a much better relationship than what we’ve had over the last few years” with President Hamid Karzai, according to the Associated Press.
Panetta also told reporters that he believed Ayman al-Zawahiri, who recently replaced Osama bin Laden as Al Qaeda’s leader, is living in Pakistan’s Federally Administered Tribal Areas, according to the Associated Press.
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