U.N. chief in Afghanistan for security talks

KABUL (Reuters) – United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon was in Afghanistan on Wednesday for talks with President Hamid Karzai and NATO military leaders, the U.N. said.

Ban’s unannounced visit comes a day after the U.N. said more than 2,100 civilians were killed in Afghanistan in 2008, 40 percent more than in 2007, and appealed for $604 million for the country in 2009.

Some 55,000 soldiers from 41 countries are in Afghanistan battling Taliban insurgents in a U.N.-mandated mission.

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