Acting Pentagon chief makes unannounced Afghanistan trip – Aljazeera.com
Patrick Shanahan, the performing secretary of defence, has arrived in Afghanistan on an unannounced take a look at amid a thrust by the United States to negotiate peace with the Taliban.
Shanahan will meet Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, whose government was not section of important talks between the US and Taliban officials past month that officials hope could provide a breakthrough in the seventeen-calendar year conflict.
“It is important that the Afghan governing administration is included in discussions pertaining to Afghanistan,” Shanahan advised a modest team of reporters travelling with him on the shock excursion on Monday.
The acting Pentagon chief mentioned Washington has significant security pursuits in the region and needed to hear from the commanders on the floor.
Shanahan changed Jim Mattis, who give up in December about plan distinctions with US President Donald Trump.
The Taliban has refused to negotiate specifically with Ghani’s government, contacting it a “puppet” of the West. But Ghani’s allies in Washington insist Afghans really should guide the peace procedure.
Kabul is also involved that a sharp withdrawal of the almost 14,000 US troops in Afghanistan could guide to chaos in the location.
The Taliban needs all American troops withdrawn, and officers say that is at the leading of the armed group’s checklist of demands in exploratory talks.
Shanahan, who will also satisfy US commanders, instructed reporters he experienced so significantly not been given any route to minimize troops in Afghanistan.
Al Jazeera’s Tony Birtley, reporting from Kabul, said Shanahan’s excursion was “a fact-locating mission”.
“His views on Afghanistan are not commonly recognized, and he is envisioned to make them recognised just after this go to,” Birtley included. “His responses on Afghan government’s involvement in peace talks is important for the governing administration for the reason that they really feel sidelined by the US-led talks.”
Zalmay Khalilzad, the Trump administration’s specific envoy for Afghan peace talks, said on Friday that although peace talks with the Taliban are in an early stage, he hopes a deal can be created by July.
That is when Afghanistan is scheduled to maintain a presidential election.
Due to the fact getting appointed previous September as the US special representative for Afghan reconciliation, Khalilzad has carried out a range of rounds of talks with the Taliban and other regional associates in Afghanistan, Pakistan, the United Arab Emirates, India, Russia, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar.
The US envoy’s most latest talks had been in Doha late last thirty day period the place the two sides satisfied for 6 times.
Washington would like assurances that Afghanistan will not harbour groups that would use the region as a foundation to launch attacks on the US.
The upcoming round of talks is owing in Qatar on February twenty five.
In December, there were many reviews that Trump planned to halve the quantity of US forces in Afghanistan. In his State of the Union address last 7 days, the US president said any troop pullout would be linked to progress in peace talks.
Normal Joseph Votel, the commander of US Central Command, showing up ahead of Congress previous week, made available a mostly optimistic check out of Afghanistan, stating the current manoeuvring between the US and Taliban negotiators is “our initial actual possibility for peace and reconciliation because the war began”.
Votel famous that the Taliban are nevertheless able of inflicting sizeable casualties on Afghan govt forces.
Just last week, Taliban fighters killed some two dozen Afghan troops in an attack on an military foundation in northern Kunduz province.
In addition to battling the Taliban, the US and coalition forces in Afghanistan are focussed on an affiliate of the Islamic Point out of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, or ISIS), identified as ISIS-Khorasan, comprised of overseas fighters largely from Pakistan.