US defence secretary arrives in Afghanistan


US Defence Secretary Robert Gates flew into Afghanistan today for talks with commanders and Afghan President Hamid Karzai, as Washington reviews its strategy in the nine-year war.

His unannounced trip comes amid further tensions between Washington and Kabul after leaked American diplomatic cables offered a scathing account of Karzai and his corruption-tainted allies.

U.S. Secretary of Defense Michael Robert Gates speaks during the US Forces-Iraq change of command ceremony in Baghdad, Wednesday Sept. 1, 2010 (AP Photo/Jim Watson, pool)

Gates travelled to the sprawling Bagram air base, a year after US President Barack Obama ordered 30,000 extra American troops into the war in a strategy overhaul, also renewing efforts to build up Afghan security forces.

“He arrives here feeling very good about the progress that has been made in the past year,” press secretary Geoff Morrell told reporters travelling with Gates. The trip will help shape a war strategy review under way in the White House, Morrell told reporters.

“This visit will inform that discussion back in Washington,” he said.

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