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AFPAK Panetta Visits Afghanistan Zhang Jun, Xinhua / Landov

Panetta Visits Afghanistan

Newly minted Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, who was promoted from CIA director on July 1, arrived in Kabul, Afghanistan, on a surprise trip Saturday. He will meet with U.S. troops and their head commander, David Petraeus, who is leaving his post later this month to succeed Panetta as head of the CIA. The two will likely discuss the troop withdrawal that is set to begin this month, though no details have been confirmed. Panetta is also scheduled to meet with Afghan President Hamid Karzai in an attempt to smooth over strained relations. He told reporters en route with him to the country that the U.S. is "within reach of strategically defeating al Qaeda," and that it has identified key leaders within the terrorist group, specifically Ayman al-Zawahiri, bin Laden's designated successor, who the U.S. believes is living in western Pakistan.

July 9, 2011 10:20 AM