US envoy launches key Afghan talks
US envoy Richard Holbrooke started talks in Afghanistan on Friday aimed at stepping up the fight against a Taliban-led insurgency that the top US intelligence chief warned was escalating.
President Barack Obama's regional troubleshooter made his first on-the-job visit to the country in the wake of triple Taliban attacks on government offices in Kabul that killed 26 people and left eight attackers dead.
Some analysts suggest the coordinated attacks may have been an attempt by the Taliban to overshadow Holbrooke's trip and underline their strength despite the efforts of around 70,000 international troops based in Afghanistan.
Holbrooke flew in to Bagram, the main US military base, about 60 kilometres (40 miles) north of Kabul and was conducting meetings in the capital on Friday, officials said on condition of anonymity.
Details of his itinerary were not released. Holbrooke is expected to hold discussions with a range of international and Afghan authorities, including President Hamid Karzai, whose relations with Washington have been strained.
Britain's new special representative to Afghanistan and Pakistan, current ambassador to Afghanistan Sir Sherard Cowper-Coles, is also in Kabul.