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U.S. Defense Secretary Arrives In Afghanistan

Donald Rumsfeld (file photo) 13 April 2005 -- U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld arrived today on a surprise visit to Afghanistan.

He is expected to discuss with Afghan leaders the prospect of setting up permanent US bases in the country.

Rumsfeld flew into the southern city of Kandahar, a former Taliban stronghold, to meet U.S. troops and inspect provincial-reconstruction efforts

He will later travel to Kabul for talks with Afghan President Hamid Karzai on security, counterterrorism operations, and strategies to flush out Taliban and Al-Qaeda-linked militants on the Afghan-Pakistani border, officials said.

U.S.-led forces ousted the hard-line Islamic Taliban regime in late 2001 and more than 18,000 troops from a majority U.S. coalition remain in Afghanistan.

Yesterday, Rumsfeld made a surprise visit to Iraq. Later today, Rumsfeld is expected to meet with Pakistan's President Pervez Musharraf in Islamabad.