US Vice President Dick Cheney flew to Afghanistan on Thursday to bolster the country's fragile government as it faces rising threats from al-Qaida and Taliban militants. Cheney traveled to the Afghan capital from Oman and went immediately to the presidential palace to meet with President Hamid Karzai. Reporters were not allowed to report Cheney's visit until he had safely arrived. More than 8,000 people died in Afghanistan last year, making it the most violent year since 2001, when the US invaded Afghanistan to oust the hard-line Taliban regime after the Sept. 11 attacks in the United States. Al-Qaida chief Osama bin Laden is believed to be hiding in rugged, mountainous areas along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border. Cheney spokeswoman Lea Ann McBride said US President George W. Bush asked Cheney to meet with Karzai in advance of a NATO summit next month in Romania. She said Cheney would talk with Karzai about ways the US would continue to help Afghanistan become a more prosperous, stable nation. The vice president also is expected to meet with troops stationed in Afghanistan.