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U.S. defense chief back in Afghanistan

KABUL, Afghanistan, June 4 (UPI) -- U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates has returned to Afghanistan for his second visit to Kabul claiming progress was being made in the war-torn country.

"Although the level of violence is actually up, I think that in terms of what we were concerned the Taliban might be able to accomplish, things are looking better than they were, certainly than when (Gates) was here in January," said a senior Pentagon official on condition of anonymity, The Los Angeles Times reported Monday.

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Gates first visited Afghanistan in January, just weeks into his tenure as defense secretary.

While en route to Afghanistan Sunday evening, Gates said he was scheduled to meet with Afghan President Hamid Karzai, U.S. Army Gen. Dan McNeil, the new commander of NATO-led forces, and new U.S. Ambassador William Wood.

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