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Article updated: 3/11/2013 9:37 AM

Afghan troubles spell tough start for Hagel

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U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, left, greets U.S. Army troops on the tarmac of Kabul airport Monday before boarding a flight to Washington. Hagel encountered political tension with the Afghan president and a series of security problems during his first visit to Afghanistan as Pentagon chief, but he met privately with President Hamid Karzai and says they discussed the key issues.

Associated Press

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It's been a rough start for Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel. After surviving a combative Senate confirmation battle, he jumped on a military plane to Afghanistan and was hit with the jarring difficulties of shutting down a war in a country still wracked by violence and political volatility. His stay of less than three days in the war zone was riddled with bombings, security threats, political gridlock and wild accusations from an Afghan president bent on securing his own legacy.
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