- The Washington Times - Monday, June 23, 2014

The Defense Department’s second highest-ranking official is in Afghanistan this week, meeting with deployed U.S. military troops and senior Afghan leaders. But notably absent from the agenda is a discussion with outgoing Afghan President Hamid Karzai.

Pentagon spokesman Army Col. Steve Warren said that while Deputy Defense Secretary Bob Work is visiting Kabul, Afghanistan, he will be receiving U.S. military updates and assessments. And although Mr. Work will be meeting with Afghan leaders, he does not intend to meet with Mr. Karzai or either of Afghanistan’s top political contenders in the upcoming election, Mr. Warren said.

“While in Afghanistan, he’ll receive briefings on NATO-Air Training Command and International Security Assistance Force operation,” he said. “He plans to meet separately with military leadership, including Gen. [Joseph] Dunford. He’ll also meet and speak with deployed service members.”

Mr. Warren did not specify why Mr. Karzai and political candidates Abdullah Abdullah and Ashraf Ghani were not included in Mr. Work’s itinerary.

Gen. Dunford is the head of NATO’s coalition in Afghanistan and was recently tapped by the Obama administration to be the next commandant of the United States Marines Corps.

The trip is Mr. Work’s first overseas trip and diplomatic venture as deputy defense secretary, Pentagon spokesman Carl Woog said.

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