US defence secretary makes surprise visit to Afghanistan

James Mattis arrived in Kabul as the US ramps up efforts to end the country’s war.

Jim Mattis (AP)
Jim Mattis (AP)

American defence secretary James Mattis has arrived in the Afghan capital Kabul on a surprise visit to the war-weary country.

Mr Mattis is expected to meet Afghan, US and Nato military commanders as well as Afghan president Ashraf Ghani.

The defence secretary’s arrival comes just days after a suicide bomber killed 21 people amid a fresh round of insider attacks that claimed the life of one American service member and eight local police officers earlier this week.

A US serviceman was killed in Afghanistan this week (AP)

Washington appears to be ramping up efforts for a negotiated end to Afghanistan’s war.

US secretary of state Mike Pompeo announced this week the appointment of Zalmay Khalilzad, as Washington’s new senior official for Afghan reconciliation.

Mr Khalilzad, a controversial figure in the region, is a former envoy to Afghanistan.

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