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U.S. Defense Secretary In Kabul For Talks With Afghan, Military Leaders

File photo of U.S. Defense Secretary Ashton Carter (L) welcoming Afghan President Ashraf Ghani to the Pentagon in Washington, March 2015.

U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter has made an unannounced stop in Kabul to meet with Afghan leaders and U.S. military commanders.

Carter is scheduled to meet with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and Chief Executive Officer Abdullah Abdullah along with the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, General John W. Nicholson.

The visit comes shortly after U.S. President Barack Obama announced the United States would keep 8,400 troops in Afghanistan in 2017 instead of reducing their numbers to 5,500 as Obama had previously planned.

Along with its troops taking part in NATO's advisory-and-assist mission, the U.S. has special operations forces in Afghanistan for counterterrorism missions.

Washington has pledged $3.5 billion annually to fund Afghan forces, other NATO allies contributing $1 billion, and Afghan government contributing some $500 million to maintain Afghanistan's 352,000-member army and police forces.

Based on reporting by AP and AFP