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US Secretary of State arrives in Kabul for surprise visit

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo arrived here Monday for a surprise visit to Afghanistan, the Afghan authorities said.

The former director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), who was confirmed as foreign minister last April, met with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani to hold a press conference from the presidential palace.

Afghanistan, after 17 years of war, witnessed an unprecedented three-day ceasefire in mid-June between government forces and the Taliban, bringing relief from villages to Kabul.

Since then, the Afghan president, who unilaterally declared the truce until June 30, has ordered the resumption of the attacks.

But according to a senior security source, who declined to be identified, the level of violence by the Taliban has declined significantly.

“We observe a decrease in attacks throughout the country, especially in south and south-east Afghanistan,” the source said, noting “a comparison of 20 days before and after the ceasefire.”

He said the number of explosions dropped from 224 before the cease-fire to 148 after the truce, the number of suicide bombings from 10 to 3 and the firing of rockets from 157 to 120.

Pompio’s visit to Afghanistan comes on the eve of the International Conference of Muslim Scholars on Peace and Stability in the Republic of Afghanistan with the participation of 36 countries in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. The conference is expected to support the launch of peace negotiations. Source