Afghanistan Live Blog
Panetta meets with NATO commander in Kabul
Leon Panetta, US secretary of defence, has paid an unannounced visit to Afghanistan.
Panetta met with General John Allen, commander of NATO forces in the Central Asian nation, in the Afghan capital to help finalise options for the US on how many troops to keep in Afghanistan after the NATO mission ends in 2014.
My purpose here is to have a chance to talk to John and the other leaders and see the situation on the ground. I talked to the Afghan leaders and tried to tee up decisions that the President ultimately has to make with regards to the future. You guys have done a great job. I can't tell you how proud we are of all the work that you are doing. I'm ready. As an Italian, I'm ready to eat.
With Barack Obama, US president, scheduled to make a decision on the number of US troops to remain in Afghanistan, a US official told the Reuters news agency the figure could be as low as 6,000.