Hagel pays farewell visit to Afghanistan

12:02 PM | 6 Dec, 2014
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KABUL: 

US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel reached in Afghanistan on Saturday to meet Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, and NATO commanders in their nearly ending war against the Taliban.

Hagel, who was shortly to leave the US officialdom, stated that the newly-elected Afghan government and its army were ready to take charge of Afghan security after a chunk of international force departs by end of the month.   

“As difficult, as challenging, as long as this has been — by any definition, the country of Afghanistan, the people of Afghanistan are far better off today than they were 13 years ago,” Hagel quoted talking to AFP on his plane.

“They have the ability to decide their own fate, their own way, on their terms. They’re not completely there yet. But they’ve come a long way,” he said.

The advances had come as a result of the “blood and treasure” spent by American, allied and Afghan troops, he added.

NATO’s combat mission ends on December 31, and will be replaced by a US-led support mission of about 12,500 soldiers who will provide training and assistance for the Afghan security forces, as well as undertaking counter-terrorism operations.