SHARECOMMENTMORE

WASHINGTON (AP) - Defense Secretary Leon Panetta says U.S. military commanders in Afghanistan believe the U.S. and its allies have "turned the tide" after 11 years of war.

In a speech at the National Press Club, Panetta said the international military coalition has managed to reverse a five-year trend of growing violence. And he said Afghan forces are on track to take the lead for securing the entire country next year.

Panetta spent two days in Afghanistan last week, consulting with top American commanders and with Afghan government officials. He announced during his visit that President Hamid Karzai will come to Washington next month to meet with President Barack Obama to discuss the way ahead.

By all accounts, Panetta is in the final weeks of his tenure as Pentagon chief.

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