KABUL, Afghanistan -- Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has encountered political tension with the Afghan president and a series of security problems during his first visit to Afghanistan as Pentagon chief. But Hagel met privately with President Hamid Karzai and says they discussed the key issues.
Hagel says he understands that Karzai faces political pressures as the war winds down and he thinks the Afghan leader understands where the two countries stand.
Hagel is disputing Karzai's accusations Sunday that the U.S. and the Taliban are working in concert to show that violence in the country will worsen if most coalition troops leave.
The accusations were just the latest in a series of disputes that have frayed relations between the two nations.
By LOLITA C. BALDOR
The Associated Press