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Kerry makes unannounced visit to Afghanistan

Kerry arrived in the capital of Kabul Friday, according to The Associated Press. 

The U.S. and Afghanistan have until Oct. 31 to reach an agreement on the terms for residual U.S. military forces to stay in Afghanistan after the long military conflict there. 

President Obama in June warned Karzai he’d have until the end of October to reach an agreement; otherwise the U.S. would withdraw all American troops from the country by the end of 2014. 

Talks between the two leaders have stalled, however, because Karzai wants assurances there will be no foreign intervention in the future. The Afghan president has been frustrated recently with U.S. efforts that Karzai claims violates his country’s sovereignty. 

Any remaining American troops would remain in the country to conduct counterterrorism and counterinsurgency operations. 

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Under the current Bilateral Security Agreement, between 5,000 and 10,000 troops would remain in Afghanistan. A total of 52,000 combat and support troops there now are expected to withdraw. 

Kerry has been abroad for just over a week in the Asian Pacific region. He visited Japan, Bali, Indonesia, Brunei and Malaysia to meet with his foreign counterparts for meetings focused on security and trade relationships. 

For some of the stops, he filled in for Obama, who had canceled his foreign trip because of the federal government shutdown. 

The international visit was scheduled to last through Saturday.