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U.S. Republican senators visit Afghanistan, Pakistan

01-18-2011 08:22 BJT

WASHINGTON, Jan. 17 (Xinhua) -- U.S. Republican leader Mitch McConnell announced Monday he had led six other Republican senators to visit Afghanistan and Pakistan.

The Senate minority leader announced in his website that he was joined on the trip by newly-elected senators Lindsey Graham, Richard Burr, Kelly Ayotte, Ron Johnson, Marco Rubio and Pat Toomey.

The curt announcement said during their trip, the senators met with U.S. troops, military officials and political leaders to discuss political, economic and security issues affecting bilateral relations.

In addition to visiting troops from their respective states, the senators met with U.S. commander David Petraeus, Afghan President Hamid Karzai, Pakistan Foreign Secretary Salman Bashir, and Pakistani General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, Chief of Army Staff of Pakistan Army. The delegation is to return to Washington, D.C. on Tuesday.

The United States is currently in tenth year of fighting in Afghanistan. U.S. President Barack Obama has ordered the deployment of 30,000 additional troops to that country in 2009. In releasing the administration's review of his war strategy late last year, Obama said he was committed to the beginning of U.S. troops drawdown in July, 2011, but noted for the gains to be sustained over time, "there is an urgent need for political and economic progress in Afghanistan."

Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said recently violence in Afghanistan is likely to rise as Spring comes, and the country remains focus of U.S. national security strategy.

With U.S. troop levels in Afghanistan set to start decreasing in July and given the goal of fully transferring security to Afghan forces by 2014, the United States must continue to build a strategic partnership with Afghanistan, said Mullen.

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Editor:Yang Jie |Source: Xinhua

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