↑ Scroll to top

Panetta lands in Afghanistan to meet leaders

Published: March 14, 2012 | 8:04 am
Text size: -A +A

BASTION AIR FIELD, Afghanistan (AP) – U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta arrived in Afghanistan on Wednesday to meet with troops, commanders and Afghan government officials just days after a U.S. soldier allegedly went on a deadly shooting spree.

The visit was planned months ago, long before the weekend slaughter that claimed the lives of 16 villagers, including women and children. But the trip propels Panetta into the center of escalating anti-American anger and sets the stage for some difficult discussions with Afghan leaders.

Panetta and other U.S. officials say the shooting spree should not derail the U.S. and NATO strategy of a gradual withdrawal of troops by the end of 2014. But it has further soured relations with war-weary Afghans, jeopardizing the U.S. strategy of working closely with Afghan forces so they can take over their country’s security.

The military has detained an Army staff sergeant in connection with Sunday’s massacre.
Even before the shootings, anti-Americanism was already roiling in Afghanistan over U.S. troops burning Muslim holy books, including Qurans, last month on an American base. The burnings came to light soon after a video purporting to show four Marines urinating on Taliban corpses was posted on the Internet in January.

Military commanders have yet to release their final investigation on the Quran burnings, which U.S. officials say was a mistake. Five U.S. service members could face disciplinary action in connection with the incident.
Panetta’s two-day visit is scheduled to include meetings with President Hamid Karzai, Afghan defense officials and provincial leaders, as well as routine discussions with his commanders on the ground. The sessions are likely to touch on America’s planned withdrawal of about 22,000 troops by fall, including as many as 10,000 Marines from Helmand Province.

The Associated Press.

VN:F [1.9.10_1130]
Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)
Share on Facebook Share on Twitter
More posts in category: World News
  • Russia Ponders the Future of its Capital
  • David Kezerashvili Buys Shares of Rustavi 2 and Mze TVs
  • Analysis: Shootings complicate Afghanistan mission
  • North Korea stages live-fire military drills amid tensions