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Afghan President meets visiting US Defense Secretary

IANS | Kabul |

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani met with visiting US Defense Secretary James Mattis, ahead of expected decision on more US troops for militancy-hit country, government officials said.

According to a statement by the Afghan Presidential Palace on Monday, the two sides discussed the security situation of Afghanistan and the region, fight against terrorism and bilateral ties, Xinhua news agency reported.

"Both sides talked over bilateral relations and cooperation. They also discussed fighting terrorism, narcotics and corruption," the statement added.

This is Mattis' first visit to the country since US President Donald Trump's inauguration in January.

"The Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF) was standing at the first line against terrorism and continues its earnest counter-terrorism efforts with full might for ensuring security and stability in Afghanistan, region and the world," Ghani said during the meeting .

However, the statement did not say whether the two sides discuss sending of more US troops to the war-hit country.

The Pentagon chief said that US will continue to stand shoulder to shoulder with the Afghans for the future of Afghanistan, according to the statement.

The NATO and US forces completed their combat mission in Afghanistan by the end of 2014, after 13 years of military presence in the country but around 13,000 foreign troops remain to train and assist Afghan security forces in their fight against the Taliban and the Islamic State (IS) fighters.