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US Secretary of State in Afghanistan as Taliban commander capture confirmed

The US Pentagon has confirmed the capture of a senior Pakistan Taliban commander. The US Secretary of State is in Kabul for talks on security issues after the scheduled US troop withdrawal in 2014.

Senior Pakistan Taliban commander Latif Mehsud was captured in Afghanistan by US forces, according to the Pentagon. He is being detained under a law authorizing the use of force against al Qaeda in the wake of the 2001 attacks, the administration confirmed.

However, the Washington Post newspaper claimed on Friday that US forces had taken Mehsud from Afghan intelligence agents who were trying to recruit him as a go-between for peace talks. The Post said the incident, viewed as a major breach of Afghan sovereignty, had angered Afghan President Hamid Karzai.

State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf described Latif Mehsud as a "terrorist leader" and a "senior commander" in the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan.

Kerry in Afghanistan

US Secretary of State John Kerry arrived in Afghanistan in an unscheduled, two day visit on Friday for talks with the government on terms for a future US military presence in Afghanistan after 2014.

President Barack Obama told Karzai last June that if there was no agreement by October 31 on the terms for keeping a residual US military presence in Afghanistan, the United States would withdraw all of its troops at the end of 2014.

Points of dispute between the two governments reportedly rest on whether the US would be allowed to run independent counterterrorism missions on Afghan territory, and Washington's refusal to guarantee Afghanistan protection from intervention by foreign forces, primarily from Pakistan.

There were three hours of talks at the presidential palace on Friday between the two sides. Further discussions are expected Saturday.

jm/jr (Reuters, AP)