VOA Special English
US Defense Secretary Makes Surprise Visit to Afghanistan


    U.S. Secretary of Defense Ash Carter made a surprise stop in Afghanistan Tuesday.

    Carter was in the country to meet with President Ashraf Ghani and Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah, as well as U.S. commanders.

    The visit comes days after an agreement with international leaders to support Afghanistan with 12,000 NATO troops.

    U.S. Secretary of Defense Ash Carter with Afghan President Ghani, July 12, 2016
    U.S. Secretary of Defense Ash Carter with Afghan President Ghani, July 12, 2016

    NATO allies also agreed to provide more funding for the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces through 2020.

    In a press conference Tuesday with President Ghani, Carter discussed Afghanistan’s economic and anti-corruption reforms. He said the government’s progress on those reforms “is central” to the continued international support for the country.

    Also on Tuesday, Carter said under new power, General Mick Nicholson, commander of U.S. and international forces in Afghanistan, has greater freedom to strike at the Taliban.

    Before the new changes, Nicholson and his forces could only intervene against the Taliban when Afghan government troops requested assistance.

    More U.S. troops to remain in Afghanistan

    Meanwhile, President Barack Obama announced last week that close to 8,400 U.S. troops will remain in Afghanistan through the end of his presidency in January 2017. That is more than the Obama administration had originally planned.

    More than 2,000 of the remaining U.S. troops will support the U.S. counterterrorism mission. The mission will target al-Qaida as well as Islamic State fighters trying to take control in eastern Afghanistan.

    Carla Babb and Ayaz Gul reported this story for VOA News. Jim Dresbach and Ashley Thompson adapted it for Learning English, with additional materials from the Associated Press and Reuters. Hai Do was the editor.


    Words in This Story

    counterterrorism - n. actions by a group, army, etc., that are done to prevent terrorist attacks and destroy terrorist networks

    mission - n. a specific military or naval task