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Pentagon Chief Executive Officer Plays Unplanned Trip to Afghanistan | News



Patrick Shanakhan, acting director Secretary of Defense, arrived in Afghanistan during an unplanned visit against the backdrop of the United States pushing to negotiate peace with the Taliban.

Shanakhan will meet with Afghan President Ashraf Ghana, whose government was not part of the big talks between US officials and the Taliban last month that officials hope it can bring a breakthrough in the 17-year conflict.

The Afghan government is taking part in discussions on Afghanistan, – said Shanakhan to a small group of reporters who traveled with him on an unexpected trip on Monday.

The Pentagon's chief executive said that Washington had important security interests in the region and wanted to hear from the commanders

Shanakhan replaced Jim Mattis, who in December ended political disagreements with US President Donald Trump. The Taliban refused to negotiate directly with the Government of Ghana, calling it the "puppet" of the West. But Allies in Ghana in Washington insist that Afghans should lead a peaceful process.

Kabul is also worried that the sharp withdrawal of almost 1

4,000 US troops into Afghanistan could lead to chaos in the region.

The Taliban wants to withdraw all American troops, and officials say it is the top of the list of requirements of the armed group in the research talks.

Shanakhan, who also meets with US commanders, told reporters that he has not yet received any direction for the reduction of troops in Afghanistan.

"The Detection Mission"

Tony Birtley, originating from Kabul, said that Shanakhan's trip was "a fact-finding mission".

"His views on Afghanistan are not widely known and he is expected to make them known after this visit," – added Byrtle. "His comments on the Afghan government's engagement in peace talks are important to the government, as they feel aloof from the US-led talks."

Zalmai Khalilzad, special envoy of the Trump Administration for peace talks in Afghanistan, said on Monday that, although peace talks with the Taliban are in the early stages, he hopes that the deal can be reached by July.

It is then planned to hold the presidential election in Afghanistan.

Since the appointment in September of last year by the United States Special Representative for Afghanistan's Reconciliation Khalilzad has conducted a series of rounds of talks with the Taliban and other regional representatives in Afghanistan, Pakistan, the United Arab Emirates, India, Russia, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Saudi Arabia and Qatar.

The most recent talks of an American envoy took place in Doha late last month, when both sides met during six days.

Washington wants to assure that Afghanistan will not hide groups that would use the country to launch an attack on the United States.

The next round of talks will be held in Qatar on February 25.

In December there were a lot of reports that Trump had planned to cut twice the number of US troops in Afghanistan. In a statement on the state of the Union last week, the US president said that any withdrawal of troops would be tied to progress in peace talks.

General Joseph Wothel, Commander of the Central Command of the United States, who came to Congress last week, offered a largely optimistic view of Afghanistan, stating that the current maneuver between talks with the US and the Taliban is "our first real opportunity for peace and reconciliation since

Votel noted that the Taliban are still capable of causing significant casualties to Afghan government forces.

Only last week, Taliban militants killed an attack on an army base in the northern province of Kunduz.

In addition to the fight with The United States and the coalition forces in Afghanistan are concentrated in Iraq Islamic State Iraq and Levant (ISIL or ISIS), ISIS-Khorasan, consisting of foreign militants, mainly from Pakistan.

SOURCE:
The function of Al Jazeera and news agencies


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