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NATO's New Secretary General Makes First Visit To Kabul

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg on this way to Kabul.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg on this way to Kabul.

The new secretary general of NATO and Pakistan's Army chief were in Kabul on Thursday to meet with newly-sworn-in President Ashraf Ghani.

As NPR's Sean Carberry reports the visits mark a continued honeymoon between the international community and Afghanistan's new government. Sean sent this report to our Newscast unit:

"Neither visit resulted in any new policies or initiatives. Rather, they appeared to be about marking a new chapter in Afghanistan's relations with NATO and Pakistan.

"Over the years, former President Hamid Karzai's relationship with many in the international community soured – something Ghani is trying to turn around.

"In his first visit to Afghanistan, NATO Secretary Jens Stoltenberg said he's known Ghani for some time and that NATO is committed to a long-term partnership with Afghanistan. After the current combat mission ends in December, some 12,000 U.S. and NATO troops will conduct a training and support mission here for the next two years."

Stoltenberg visited the Afghan National Army Special Operations Command at Camp Morehead in Kabul, where he praised the progress of Afghan commando units.

"I have seen a highly trained, experienced and professional force," Stoltenberg said. "For over a year, Afghan soldiers and police have led security operations across the country, and at the end of this year, you will take full charge of security. But you will not stand alone. NATO and our partners will continue to support you."

Meanwhile,the AP reports that the day also brought a bloody reminder that the Taliban remain a formidable force. The wire service reports:

"On Thursday police in the eastern Paktia province received the bodies of 10 civilians who had been shot dead, according to provincial police chief Gen. Zalmai Huryakhil. He said police did not know when or why the people were killed.

"The bodies were brought to the police by local village elders because the security forces cannot operate in the area where the bodies were found."

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Eyder Peralta is NPR's East Africa correspondent based in Nairobi, Kenya.

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