Hagel Arrives in Kabul for Meetings, Troops Visits

By Karen Parrish
American Forces Press Service

KABUL, Afghanistan, Dec. 7, 2013 – Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel arrived here today for meetings with U.S. military leaders and Afghan officials, as well as the traditional holiday visits to deployed service members.

Hagel is scheduled to meet here with Afghan Defense Minister Bismullah Khan Mohammadi and Interior Minister Mohammad Umer Daudzai.

Assistant Pentagon Press Secretary Carl Woog said the secretary will “thank troops for their service fighting far away from home, and commend the progress they have made this year in advancing the capabilities of the Afghan national security forces.”

A senior defense official traveling with the secretary told reporters Hagel does not plan to meet during this visit with Afghan President Hamid Karzai. The bilateral security agreement is still unsigned between the United States and Afghanistan, the official noted.

“The United States has made its position on the BSA clear,” the official said. “And just two days ago, President Karzai repeated his position to senior U.S. officials that he is not yet ready to sign the BSA and provided no timeline or practical step for doing so.”

The secretary left Bahrain earlier today after delivering a speech on the U.S. force posture in the Middle East. He also is scheduled to visit Qatar and Saudi Arabia before concluding his travels.

(Follow Karen Parrish on Twitter: @ParrishAFPS)

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