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Rumsfeld (left) with Afghan President Karzai in Kabul in December 2005 (epa)
July 11, 2006 -- U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld arrived today in Afghanistan for talks with President Hamid Karzai and other officials.
Rumsfeld is expected to discuss ways of curbing escalating violence between coalition forces and Taliban insurgents, and NATO's plans to assume security responsibility in southern Afghanistan.
Rumsfeld visited neighboring Tajikistan on July 10.
Rumsfeld's visit comes amid renewed fighting between the U.S.-led coalition and Taliban fighters. The coalition says its forces killed 30 suspected Taliban fighters in combat in the southern Helmand Province early today. The operation took place in the Sangin district of Helmand.
Meanwhile, a top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, General Karl Eikenberry, said that power vacuums in areas of southern Afghanistan where the government has little presence have contributed to rising Taliban violence.
(AFP, Reuters, AP)