WASHINGTON, Sept. 16, 2013 – Deputy Defense Secretary Ash Carter has wrapped up a three-day visit to Afghanistan, where he met with senior International Security Assistance Force, coalition and Afghan officials.
In a statement summarizing the visit, Pentagon Press Secretary George Little said Carter met in the Afghan capital of Kabul with Defense Minister Bismillah Khan Mohammadi, Interior Minister Umar Daudzai and members of the Afghan Parliament to stress the importance of a timely conclusion to the bilateral security agreement that will spell out the terms of the U.S. military presence in Afghanistan once the current mission ends there in December 2014.
Carter also stressed the importance of timely, free and fair elections in Afghanistan next year, the press secretary added.
In addition, he said, the deputy secretary noted the “tremendous progress” made by the Afghan national security forces this fighting season, the first in which they've assumed full lead.
Carter also met with U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan James Cunningham and ISAF Commander Marine Corps Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr. to discuss progress made on concluding the bilateral security agreement, supporting the Afghan forces and setting conditions for a stable and secure Afghanistan in 2015 and beyond, Little said.
The deputy secretary also visited ISAF and Afghan forces in Bastion, Shindand, Gardez and Ghazni to commend them on their ongoing efforts and successes, the press secretary said, and he thanked Polish forces at Ghazni and the 203rd Afghan National Army Corps at Gardez.
He also visited Herat to pay tribute to the men and women affected by the Sept. 13 attack on the U.S. consulate there, and to praise Afghan and ISAF forces for their quick and decisive action, Little said.