The U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta is in Afghanistan to hold talks with President Hamid Karzai.
Panetta arrived unnanounced on December 12 to hold two days of deliberations with the Afghan administration and U.S. commanders about future U.S. troop numbers after Washington and its NATO allies draw down their presence in Afghanistan by the end of 2014.
Ahead of a closed-door meeting with Panetta, General John Allen, the top U.S. and NATO commander in Afghanistan, said he would hold candid discussions with the secretary of defense.
Currently, there are 68,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan.
But the number is expected to gradually decline over the next two years after U.S. and Afghan officials agree on the size and mandate of the Western force after 2014.
Karzai has warned that his government might suspend negotiations on the future U.S. force unless Washington hands over custody of all detainees held at Bagram prison outside Kabul.
U.S. officials worry that some of them might be released and then return to the battlefield.
Based on reporting by Reuters and AP