Pentagon chief plans to stop in Pakistan on Monday

LOLITA C. BALDOR
U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, right, shakes hands with Afghan Gen. Sher Mohammad Karimi, left, during a meeting at the International Security Assistance Force Headquarters (ISAF) on Saturday, Dec. 7, 2013 in Kabul, Afghanistan. Secretary Hagel made a stop in Afghanistan during his six-day trip to the Middle East. (AP Photo/Mark Wilson, Pool)

CAMP LEATHERNECK, Afghanistan (AP) — U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel says he'll visit Pakistan on Monday — a rare stop for a Pentagon chief in recent years.

U.S. relations with Pakistan have seesawed because of drone strikes and military operations along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border, though there have been some signs of improvement. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif met with President Barack Obama in late October.

Hagel plans to see Sharif and other officials. Expected topics include Afghanistan and security threats.

Hagel made the announcement during a Sunday meeting with troops at Camp Leatherneck in Afghanistan.

The last U.S. defense secretary to visit Pakistan was Robert Gates in January 2010.