Chuck Hagel heads to Afghanistan for unannounced visit


US Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel speaks on March 15, 2013, inside the media briefing room of the Pentagon, in Washingon, DC.



US Defense Minister Chuck Hagel arrived in Afghanistan on Saturday for an unannounced visit — a likely effort to shore up support for a bilateral security agreement, although he did not meet with Afghan President Hamid Karzai. 

Hagel's choice to avoid meeting with Karzai was seen as a new strategy in the US effort to get Afghan leaders to sign a security agreement that would allow US troops to stay in Afghanistan after 2014 to train local forces.

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“No country should be in a position to try to coerce a leader of another country, to convince that leader to have us be a presence in his country if the people of that country don’t want us,” said Hagel to the Washington Post of the effort. 

Hagel said that the true purpose of the visit was to meet with the troops, and that he never "asked for a meeting with President Karzai," according to the Voice of America. "That was not the purpose of my trip, never suggested it in any way."

Although Hagel did not meet with Karzai, he did meet with Afghan Defense Minister Bismillah Khan Mohammadi. Hagel stated, per Voice of America, that a security pact with the US would be signed in a "timely manner."