By Phil Stewart
KANDAHAR, Afghanistan | Thu Dec 13, 2012 3:11pm EST
(Reuters) - A suicide bomber killed one American service member and wounded three other U.S. troops outside a base in southern Afghanistan on Thursday shortly after a visit there by U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, officials said.
Panetta dismissed the attack as a desperate and futile attempt by insurgents to sow chaos in Afghanistan.
He announced that Afghan President Hamid Karzai would head to the United States in the week of Jan 7. for talks with President Barack Obama on the future the U.S. presence in Afghanistan after the NATO-led mission ends in 2014.
But the attack, which was reported to have wounded more than a dozen Afghans, was a reminder of how insurgent violence is still adding to the death toll in the 11-year war -- even as the United States and its allies prepare to hand over security to the Afghans.