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US's Panetta in Afghanistan for talks amid rising violence

KABUL - US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta arrived in Afghanistan on Thursday for talks with military leaders amid rising violence in the war against the Taliban and a spate of deadly incidents, including a NATO air strike said to have killed 18 villagers.
Panetta said the purpose of the trip was to hear an assessment from US General John Allen, the head of NATO coalition forces in Afghanistan, about the "ability to confront these threats from the Taliban and from the Haqqanis", a reference to the hardline, al Qaida-linked Haqqani network.Panetta also planned to visit troops and hold talks with the Afghan defence minister, General Abdul Rahim Wardak.
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