Napolitano visits Afghanistan

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano touched down in Afghanistan on Friday morning and planned to spend New Year’s Eve visiting troops.

Six Department of Homeland Security (DHS) customs and border security officials will accompany Napolitano on the weeklong trip, which will include stops in Qatar, Israel and Belgium.

Napolitano spent Friday morning touring Afghanistan’s Torkham Border Crossing with Pakistan and meeting with Afghan an U.S. border security and customs officials to find new ways to establish a border-security and customs system to counter terrorism while allowing legitimate travel and trade.

Following her visit to the Afghan-Pakistan border, Secretary Napolitano joined a group of U.S. and allied troops for lunch and thanked them for their service.

“Today, I arrived in Kabul with six additional border security and customs officers who will join our ongoing efforts to advise and assist our Afghan counterparts on customs and border control,” she said in a statement. “It is an honor to meet with our dedicated military and civilian men and women who are helping to bring peace and stability to Afghanistan, and I thank them for their continued efforts and sacrifices here to make the American homeland safer and more secure.”

During the trip, Secretary Napolitano also reiterated President Obama’s commitment to assisting the Afghan people in securing their country by disrupting, dismantling and defeating al-Qaeda in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

DHS border security and customs officials have spent several years in the region trying to help train and coordinate Afghan security officials. In the last twelve months, DHS has expanded the effort and now more than a dozen U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents are providing training and guidance to the Afghan government—including the six officials that arrived with Napolitano earlier today. Additional personnel will be deployed in the coming month, according to a DHS release.

After leaving Afghanistan on Sunday, Napolitano will travel to Qatar, Israel and Belgium to meet with her government counterparts in those countries to discuss international efforts to ensure airline security and supply systems against threats of terrorism and transnational crime.

This post was updated at 10:30 a.m.

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