What we’re watching Saturday
U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel is greeted by Amb. James B. Cunningham and Gen. Joseph F. Dunford , after arriving on Dec. 7, 2013 in Kabul, Afghanistan. Credit: Mark Wilson/Getty Images
Secretary of Defense Hagel in Afghanistan
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel met with Afghanistan’s defense minister on Saturday, who gave him assurances that a security agreement with the U.S. will be signed shortly.
The AP reports that Hagel spoke with reporters after his meeting with Defense Minister Bismillah Khan Mohammadi, but said he had no plans to meet with President Hamid Karzai.
While Karzai initially endorsed the agreement, which would allow U.S. troops to stay in the country after 2014 to conduct training and counterterrorism operations, the Afghan President now says he wants his successor to decide on the pact after elections in April.
U.S. officials have been adamant that they need the deal signed before January, or will have to start planning for alternatives. Hagel was in the country after a stop in Bahrain, where he opened the door for the U.S. to sell weapons systems, including missile defense systems to U.S.-friendly Gulf nations.
This is the Secretary’s second trip to Afghanistan since becoming Pentagon chief earlier this year.
85 year-old American tourist and Korean war veteran deported from North Korea
After more than a month of detention, American tourist and Korean war veteran Merrill Newman was released by North Korea on Saturday.
“I am very glad to be on my way home,” a smiling Newman told reporters at the airport in Beijing, according to the AP.
The release comes as Vice President Joe Biden was traveling in South Korea.
Merrill was taken off his plane and detained on Oct. 26 while preparing to leave the country after a 10-day tour.
Wintery blast across the nation
A large portion of the central U.S. is experiencing a wintery blast, including frigid temperatures, snow, and ice that has led to several reported deaths and dangerous driving conditions.
The weather has wreaked havoc on air travel, cancelling thousands of flights across the country and at least eight fatal traffic accidents have been connected to the weather.