The new U.S. envoy to
Afghanistan and Pakistan has begun his first round of meetings with top Afghan
officials in the capital, Kabul.
Richard Holbrooke's itinerary
has been tightly guarded, and his talks Friday come just two days after Taliban
militants launched deadly attacks on three government ministries.
Reports say Mr. Holbrooke met with Defense and Interior
Ministry officials and will hold talks with Afghan President Hamid Karzai later
Hours before talks began,
Australian defense officials said five Afghan children were killed during
fighting between Taliban militants and Australian soldiers.
Australia's military issued a statement Friday saying the
incident happened on Thursday as Australian soldiers were clearing a number of
homes of insurgents in the southern province of Uruzgan.
President Karzai has said that he supports foreign efforts to
battle extremists in his country, but he has blamed the U.S. and other Western
allies for not doing enough to reduce the risk to civilians.
In other news, U.S. government auditors say the U.S. Defense
Department has failed to track more than one-third (or 87,000) of 242,000
weapons shipped to Afghanistan since December of 2004.
The U.S. Government Accountability Office released its report
Thursday, warning that U.S. weapons - including assault rifles, grenade
launchers and mortars - may have fallen into militant hands.
Some information for
this report was provided by AFP and Reuters.