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Kerry plans to visit Kabul soon

March 24, 2013

US Secretary of State John Kerry.—Photo by AP

WASHINGTON: John Kerry is expected to arrive in Kabul this week on his first trip to Afghanistan as the US secretary of state, diplomatic sources here said.

Mr Kerry also looked at the possibility of visiting Pakistan during this trip, but decided to make a separate visit to Islamabad early this summer, the sources said.

Secretary Kerry’s visit to Kabul follows renewed tensions between the two governments during which Afghan President Hamid Karzai accused the Obama administration of colluding with the Taliban.

On Monday, Nato chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen dismissed the accusation as “absolutely ridiculous”.

But diplomatic observers in Washington said that Mr Karzai’s remarks were part of his strategy to distance himself from the Americans who plan to withdraw most of their troops from Afghanistan by 2014. This did not reflect a serious rupture between Washington and Kabul, they said.

Mr Kerry is likely to discuss the future political set-up in Afghanistan as Mr Karzai completes his second and final term next year and steps down after holding general elections.

The United States and its Nato allies have promised to stay engaged with Afghanistan after 2014 as well, pledging to continue their economic assistance to the war-ravaged country.