Acting Pentagon boss grounds in Afghanistan, underpins Kabul job in harmony talks

KABUL: Acting US barrier secretary Patrick Shanahan touched base in Afghanistan on Monday and said it was critical the Afghan government is associated with talks, from which it has so far been prohibited, to end the 17-year-old war.

Shanahan, who will meet US troops and Afghan President Ashraf Ghani on his first excursion in his new job, said he had so far not gotten any bearing to decrease the almost 14,000 US troops in Afghanistan.

He additionally said the United States has essential security interests in the locale.

Ghani’s legislature has been closed out of the developing harmony talks between Taliban moderators and US agents, with the hardline Islamist development marking his administration a US manikin. Kabul is additionally worried that a sharp drawdown of US powers could prompt turmoil in the locale.

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“It is imperative that the Afghan government is associated with talks in regards to Afghanistan,” Shanahan told a little gathering of journalists going with him on the unannounced outing.

“The Afghans need to choose what Afghanistan looks like later on. It’s not about the US, it is about Afghanistan,” he said.

Shanahan assumed control from Jim Mattis, who quit in December over approach contrasts with US President Donald Trump.

He said he couldn’t make any assurances in light of the fact that U.S. harmony agent Zalmay Khalilzad was driving the discussions.

“The U.S. military has solid security interests in the district. (The) nearness will develop out of those discourses,” Shanahan said.

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He additionally said his objective on the excursion was to get a comprehension of the circumstance on the ground from leaders and after that to brief Trump on his discoveries.

US authorities have held a few rounds of chats with the Taliban in Qatar since a year ago in what is broadly observed as the most genuine offer yet for harmony in Afghanistan since the Taliban were removed by US-supported Afghan powers in late 2001.

The two sides hailed advancement after the most recent round a month ago, albeit huge impediments remain. Those incorporate the contribution of the Afghan government, which the Taliban decline to recognize.

The following round of talks is expected in Qatar on February 25.

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Michael Kugelman, a South Asia pro at the Woodrow Wilson Center, said Shanahan’s fundamental need in Kabul ought to be to address Afghan government concerns.

“The best need of Shanahan must be to urge the administration that we will do all that we can to get you into this discussion,” Kugelman said.


Shanahan will likewise need to ponder how much partners will confide in him.

Mattis, a previous four-star general once accountable for US Central Command, was regarded for his profound learning of military and worldwide undertakings. Shanahan, a previous Boeing official and Mattis’ agent, is viewed as a relative pariah in remote approach circles.

Afghanistan and neighboring nations are likewise worried about the impact a sudden withdrawal of US powers could have on the locale.

An Afghan official, talking on the state of secrecy, revealed to Reuters that even the proposal of US troops possibly leaving was risky.

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“Obviously it has offered influence to the Taliban, there is no doubt about that,” the authority said.

Trump has offered no points of interest about when he would bring home the 14,000 US troops in Afghanistan yet has said advancement in arrangements with the Taliban would empower a troop decrease and an “attention on counter-psychological oppression”.

Shanahan said a withdrawal of about a large portion of the US troops in Afghanistan was not something that was being talked about now and he had not been coordinated to decrease troop numbers.

“The nearness we need in Afghanistan is the thing that guarantees our country guard and backings local solidness and afterward any kind of measuring is done in a planned and taught way,” he said.

Khalilzad said following six days of chats with the Taliban in Doha a month ago the United States and the Taliban had portrayed the frameworks for an inevitable harmony accord.

He has said from that point forward there had been advancement on the fate of U.S. troops in Afghanistan.

In any case, the Taliban have put out opposing data on what course of events the US had consented to in any potential withdrawal.

Most as of late, a Taliban official said no timetable had been concurred with the US government for the fractional withdrawal of U.S. powers.

US authorities have revealed to Reuters that, while no formal requests have been sent, the military is planning for what a withdrawal of about portion of the 14,000 US troops in Afghanistan would resemble.

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