US defense chief Panetta in Afghanistan after massacre

By REUTERS
March 14, 2012 09:55

BASTION AIRFIELD, Afghanistan - US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta arrived on an unannounced two-day visit to Afghanistan on Wednesday, as the United States tries to contain fallout from a massacre of 16 Afghan civilians by an American soldier.

Panetta's visit had been scheduled before Sunday's shooting rampage, but it takes on new meaning as political pressure mounts on Afghan and US officials over the unpopular war, now dragging into its eleventh year.

Panetta was scheduled to hold talks with Afghan leaders including President Hamid Karzai, as well as provincial officials in southern Helmand province during the visit.

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