Washington: In the wake of increased attacks on American troops inside Afghanistan, US Defence Secretary Leon Panetta called Afghan President Hamid Karzai to discuss the situation and the progress in the war against terrorism.

The telephonic conversation between the two leaders comes ahead of the crucial Afghanistan visit of General Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Panetta, during the call yesterday, highlighted the significant progress that has been made by US and Afghan forces as the transition process moves forward, Pentagon Press Secretary George Little said.

Panetta and Karzai also discussed the challenge of insider attacks against Coalition and Afghan forces, Little said, adding the Defence Secretary thanked the Afghan leader for his recent statements condemning such attacks.

"They expressed shared concern over this issue and agreed that American and Afghan officials should work even more closely together to minimize the potential for insider attacks in the future," he said.

"Secretary Panetta encouraged President Karzai to continue working closely with ISAF Commander General John Allen to further strengthen ISAF-Afghan cooperation to counter the insider attack threat, including augmented counter-intelligence measures, even more rigorous vetting of Afghan recruits, and stepped up engagement with village elders, who often play a key role by vouching for Afghan security personnel," Little said.


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