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.


Australia warned US to prepare to use force in China

Former Australian leader Kevin Rudd told the United States it should be prepared to use force in China “if everything goes wrong”, a diplomatic cable released by WikiLeaks reveals.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton with Australian leader Kevin Rudd (AP Photo/Evan Vucci, Pool)

In wide-ranging talks with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Rudd also described Chinese leaders as “paranoid” about Taiwan and Tibet and said his push for a new Asia-Pacific body was designed to contain Chinese influence.

The memo detailing a March 2009 lunch conversation between Rudd, who was then prime minister, and Clinton in Washington states that the Australian leader described himself a “brutal realist on China”.

It said Rudd, a Mandarin-speaking former diplomat who was once posted to Beijing, argued for “multilateral engagement with bilateral vigour” in China.

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