Acting Pentagon Chief Makes First Afghanistan Trip Before Next Round of Peace Talks
Acting U.S. defence secretary Patrick Shanahan arrived in Afghanistan on Monday on his first trip in the role and said it was important the Afghan government is involved in talks, from which it has so far been excluded, to end the 17-year-old war.
Shanahan, who will meet U.S. troops and Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, said he had so far not received any direction to reduce the nearly 14,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan.
He also said the United States has important security interests in the region.
Ghani's government has been shut out of the evolving peace talks between Taliban negotiators and U.S. envoys, with the hardline Islamist movement branding his government a U.S. puppet. Kabul is also concerned that a sharp drawdown of U.S. forces could lead to chaos in the region.
"It is important that the Afghan government is involved in discussions regarding Afghanistan," Shanahan told a small group of reporters travelling with him on the unannounced trip.