The U.S. special representative for Afghanistan, Richard Holbrooke, and
the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Mike Mullen, are in
Kabul for talks with senior Afghan officials.
Admiral Mullen told reporters Sunday he is convinced that the
additional U.S. troops headed to Afghanistan will begin to help
stabilize the volatile south, the center of a growing Taliban-led
insurgency. He said the trends in the south and the east over the last
three years were going in the wrong direction.
Ambassador Holbrook said the focus of the trip are Afghan presidential
elections scheduled for August 20th. He said the United State will
press for free, open and fair polls.
Also Sunday, the U.S. military in Afghanistan said Afghan troops,
advised by coalition forces, killed 14 militants in Qalat district of
the eastern Zabul province.
A military statement said the Afghan soldiers were on a combat
reconnaissance patrol Saturday when militants attacked, and a firefight
and airstrikes followed.
The troops are said to have recovered a large cache of weapons inside a
cave complex, including improvised explosive device-making material and
No military or civilian casualties were reported.
The Obama administration recently announced a revised strategy to fight
militants in Afghanistan and neighboring Pakistan. That plan includes
sending thousands of additional troops to Afghanistan, along with more
money to train Afghan police and to develop tribal areas.
Holbrooke, whose oversight area also includes Pakistan, told reporters
Sunday that regional powers will be instrumental to stemming the
insurgency in Afghanistan.