The new secretary of defense, Ashton Carter, arrived Saturday in Kabul on an unannounced visit during which he was expected to meet President Ashraf Ghani to discuss the timeline for the US troop withdrawal.
The visit was Carter’s first international trip since being sworn in last week. The new Pentagon chief is also expected to meet with US troops and commanders.
Carter has said he would consider a more gradual withdrawal of the remaining 10,000 US troops in Afghanistan, who are due to depart Afghanistan by the end of 2016 under current Obama administration plans.
“That’s what I’m here to find out,” Carter told journalists en route to Kabul. “How do things stand now, and what’s the best path forward.”
The Pentagon chief’s visit comes as the Ghani administration looks for ways to begin negotiations with Taliban militants.
US officials said they had no plans to meet with the Taliban in Qatar.