Kabul - US Secretary of State John Kerry landed in
Afghanistan on Monday for an unannounced visit, with relations badly frayed by
Kabul's recent hostility to US-led military efforts in the country.
Kerry is likely to face a testing meeting with President
Hamid Karzai who has launched a series of verbal assaults on US troops and
their coalition partners.
"He will make clear that the US will have an
enduring commitment in Afghanistan that will last beyond transition and that
there will always be bumps on the road," a US official travelling with
Kerry told reporters.
More than 11 years after the Taliban were ousted from
power, international forces are withdrawing from Afghanistan and handing
responsibility for fighting the Islamic insurgents to poorly-trained local
police and army.
As the transition gathers pace, the US and Afghanistan
are also negotiating a strategic pact that will determine the US presence in
the country after the end of international combat operations next year.
One major cause of friction between Washington and Kabul
was solved hours ahead of Kerry's arrival when a ceremony was held to mark the
final transfer of the controversial Bagram jail from US to Afghan control.
The drawn-out war is increasingly unpopular in the US,
and Karzai triggered fury earlier this month when he accused the US of working
in concert with Taliban militants to justify keeping soldiers on foreign soil.
"Issues of security and sovereignty are always going
to be difficult," the US official travelling with Kerry said.
"But the most important thing is that we are honest
to each other when there are differences between us, and you have seen some
differences playing out recently."