US Defense Secretary Gates lands unannounced in Afghanistan

KABUL - US Defense Secretary Robert Gates arrived in Afghanistan on Monday on an unannounced visit at a time of increased strain between Kabul and its Western backers and with important security transition milestones looming.
Gates, a frequent visitor to Afghanistan, was expected to meet Afghan President Hamid Karzai, who complained angrily last week after nine Afghan children were mistakenly killed by helicopters from the NATO-led force.
Karzai was due to announce on March 21 a timetable for the beginning of the gradual handover of security responsibility from foreign forces to Afghans. The process was to begin in July and be complete by 2014.
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