Hagel arrives in Kabul
Hagel is expected to meet with Afghan Defence Minister Bismillah Khan Mohammadi and US military officials including Marine Corps General Joseph Dunford, head of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s International Security Assistance Force, the alliance said in a statement.
In a message to ISAF personnel, Hagel said they have “a dangerous and difficult mission” as they move into a support role for Afghan forces.
“We are still at war, and many of you will continue to experience the ugly reality of combat and the heat of battle,” Hagel said. He said the goal of having “Afghans assume full responsibility for security by the end of 2014 is clear and achievable.”
Hagel told reporters traveling with him on a military plane that it was never the intention of the US to stay in Afghanistan indefinitely. The US invaded Afghanistan to help its people to “be free from terrorists and a government that was hostile, he said.
Hagel, who is making his fifth visit to Afghanistan, was last here in July 2008, when he was a Republican senator from Nebraska and was accompanied by Barack Obama, a Democratic senator from Illinois.
In February 2008, Hagel traveled to Afghanistan with Democratic Senators Joseph Biden of Delaware and John Kerry of Massachusetts.
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