POST TIME: 10 April, 2016 00:00 00 AM
Kerry arrives in Kabul

Kerry arrives in Kabul

AFP, KABUL: US Secretary of State John Kerry landed in Kabul Saturday on an unannounced visit to show support for the Afghan unity government and its attempts to revive peace talks with the Taliban.
His visit comes as the Islamist group is experiencing a resurgence following the withdrawal of US-led combat troops in 2014, announcing recently it was preparing for “decisive” battles in its upcoming spring offensive.
Kerry, who is due to meet with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and his number two, Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah, “will emphasise US support for the Government of Afghanistan” and its defence forces, State Department spokesman John Kirby said.
America’s top diplomat, who has been deeply involved in Afghanistan’s affairs for several years, will also “express support for the Government of Afghanistan’s efforts to end the conflict in Afghanistan through a peace and reconciliation process with the Taliban”.
There are currently 9,800 US troops in Afghanistan engaged mainly in a training role, though they also take part in some counter-terror operations. The number is due to go down to 5,500 next year.
Kerry’s meetings with Afghan leaders will relate to security, defence, democracy, governance, as well as economic and social development, according to Kirby.
Hopes for peace and economic stability were high following the 2014 presidential election, which marked the first democratic transition of power following the departure of Hamid Karzai who had ruled the country for almost a decade.
But 18 months after Afghanistan’s present unity government was formed, “there have been challenges both in terms of politics, but also in terms of the resilience...of the Taliban,” according to the US special envoy to Pakistan and Afghanistan Richard Olson.