Patrick Shanahan, the US acting secretary of defence, has arrived in Afghanistan on an unannounced trip.
Shanahan will meet Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, whose government wasn’t part of important discussions between US and Taliban officials that negotiators hope could bring a breakthrough at the 17-year battle.
“It is important that the Afghan authorities is involved in discussions regarding Afghanistan,” Shanahan told a small group of reporters travelling with him about the surprise trip on Monday.
The acting Pentagon leader said Washington has significant security interests in the region and wished to listen to from commanders on the floor.
Shanahan substituted Jim Mattis, who quit in December more than policy differences with US President Donald Trump.
The Taliban has vowed to negotiate directly with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani’s authorities, calling it a”puppet” of the West. ButGhani’s allies in Washington insist Afghans must direct the peace process.
As being named last September as the US special agent for Afghan reconciliation, Zalmay Khalilzad has completed a variety of rounds of discussions with the Taliban and other regional representatives from Afghanistan, Pakistan, the United Arab Emirates, India, Russia, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar.
The US envoy’s most recent discussions were in Doha late last month where the 2 sides met for seven days.
“Meetings here were more productive than they have been before. We made significant progress on vital problems,” he composed Twitter.
Washington wants assurances that Afghanistan will not harbour groups that could use the country as a base to launch attacks on the united states. The Taliban want all troops to take.
Back in December, there have been numerous reports that US President Donald Trump intended to re evaluate the estimated 14,000 US forces in Afghanistan.
In his State of the Union speech last week, Trump reported any troop pullout would be connected to progress in peace talks.