Arshad Mehmood /Islamabad
To end 18 years conflict in Afghanistan, Pentagon acting chief arrived in Kabul on a surprise visit.
The US acting secretary of defense and acting Pentagon chief, Patrick Shanahan, arrived surprisingly in Kabul on Monday to meet with US military commanders and Afghan leaders including President Ashraf Ghani.
During chatting with onboard Journalists, Shanahan said that he has not received yet any plan from the President of The United States, POTUS regarding the withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan.
Although the withdrawal of US troops is the Taliban’s top demand during the present peace dialogues with the US.
It is important that the Afghan government is involved in discussions regarding Afghanistan,” Shanahan further told the reporters.
Patrick Shanahan also said that The US military has strong security interests in the region, their presence will evolve out of those discussions,” a reliable INTEL source revealed to The Herald Report.
According to The Radio Pakistan, In a media talk, on his arrival, Patrick Shanahan termed the involvement of Afghan government in peace talks as a positive development in the efforts to end the 18 years old war in the country.
He also said his goal on the trip is to get an understanding of the situation on the ground from commanders and then to brief Trump on his findings.
The Afghans have to decide what Afghanistan looks like in the future. It’s not about the US, it’s about Afghanistan. The US has a significant investment in ensuring security, but the Afghans decide their future, , Shanahan said.
In January 2019, after the resignation of former US secretary of defense James Mattis, Patrick Shanahan was appointed as an acting secretary defense.
US President Donald Trump is pushing to end US involvement in Afghanistan, where 14,000 American troops are still deployed, raising Afghan fears that Washington could exit before securing a lasting peace between the Taliban and the Kabul government.
Immediate after his arrival, Shanahan met General Austin Scott Miller, commander US forces and Resolute Support mission. He also visited Camp Morehead where Americans train Afghan special forces.
Afghan National Security Advisor Hamdullah Mohib also met U.S. Acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan this afternoon.
According to the Afghan Ministry of Defence press release,(copy held by The Herald Report)
Afghanistan Acting Defense Minister Asadullah Khalid met his U.S counterpart Patrick M. Shanahan at Afghan National Army special operations corps in Kabul on Monday.
During the meeting, Both emphasized that Afghanistan and the US have shared interests in the future prosperity of Afghanistan. Mr. Khalid also pointed out the recent achievements of Afghan national army all over the country and valued the cooperation and joint efforts by Afghan and U.S. governments in fighting against the enemies of both countries, press release further added.
Earlier, Zalmay Khalilzad, the US special envoy, has expressed hope at finding a deal before Afghan presidential elections scheduled for July but also emphasized that any troop withdrawal would depend on conditions on the ground.
According to US State Department, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo spoke last week with Ashraf Ghani and stressed the importance of the Afghan government is at the center of the peace process.
According to Afghan news agencies, Afghan National Security Advisor Hamdullah Mohib also met U.S. Acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan this afternoon. The delegation will meet President Ashraf Ghani later this evening at Presidential Palace.
It is aforementioned that headed by Zalmay Khalilzad, US officials have held several rounds of peace talks with the Afghan Taliban in Qatar since September last year.
These peace talks are seen as the first-ever direct talks between the US officials and Taliban since the Taliban regime was toppled by the US-led coalition forces in 2001.
According to the latest Media Note released by the US Department of State, Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad will lead an interagency delegation to Belgium, Germany, Turkey, Qatar, Afghanistan, and Pakistan from 10th to 28th February.
This trip is part of an overall effort to facilitate a peace process that protects U.S National Security interests and brings all Afghan parties together in an intra-Afghan dialogue through which they can determine a path for their country’s future. He will meet with US allies and partners to discuss mutual efforts to advance that goal and will consult with the Afghan government throughout the trip, Media Note further read.
Zalmay Khalilzad recently returned from a six day of marathon talks with the Taliban in Doha Qatar.