Afghan soliders and US troops arriving at a meeting with U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta on Wednesday were told to come unarmed, the AP reports.
Panetta arrived in Afghanistan on Wednesday in the wake of a U.S. solider gunning down 16 Afghan civilians over the weekend.
Panetta met with a crowd of troops as well as several Afghan leaders to assert the United States' commitment to its continuing mission in the country, which has come into question since the incident. Afghan citizens, already reeling from an earlier incident in which U.S. soliders accidentally burned Qurans, have reacted to the shooting with outrage. Afghan soldiers were told prior to the meeting to not bring their guns in. Shortly before the meeting began, U.S. forces were given the same order. A senior military official told Bloomberg that the order was given to Americans soldiers to prevent sending the message that the Afghans can't be trusted.
Officials told the AP that the command was not issued by Panetta's team.
Despite the recent violence, the president has denied claims that U.S. troops will depart from Afghanistan sooner than 2014 withdrawal timeline.
A recent poll from ABC News/Washington Post shows that 60% of Americans think that the war in Afghanistan has not been worth fighting.