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Pentagon chief makes unannounced visit in Afghanistan amid push for peace

By Farhad Nibkhel

KABUL: Acting US Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan stopped in Afghanistan on Monday in a previously unannounced visit, where he met with President Ashraf Ghani and other high-ranking Afghan officials amid to weight the ongoing peace talks and to reaffirm commitment to the Afghan security forces.

Before to land in Afghanistan, Shanahan told newsmen, that he’s encouraged by the latest push to bring an end to the lengthy war. He added that he was not in the country with orders to reduce U.S. troop presence.

President Asrhaf Ghani and US Defense Chief met at Presidential Palace, said a statement from Ghani’s office, adding both sides discussed key issues.

Ghani said US strategy for Afghanistan and South Asia has given good results, but still removing sanctuaries of the armed men in the neighboring country, which is a strategic goal, has not been achieved yet.     

Both sides pointed on persistence for a durable peace, peace process, and fight against terrorism. “Military alliance between Afghanistan and the United States will continue until to bring peace.”

“The acting United States Secretary of Defense, Patrick Shanahan, is in Afghanistan today (Monday) for talks with both the government and Resolute Support leadership. The talks are focused on national security concerns related to Afghanistan,” Col. Dave Butler, USFOR-A spokesperson said in a statement.

The acting Secretary said Afghans must control their own future and be involved in ongoing peace discussions, and there are no orders to reduce U.S. troop levels in Afghanistan.”

Meet US delegation led by Acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahon at Kabul, Afghan National Security Advisor, Hamdullah Mohib wrote in his twitter count.

“Both dignitaries discussed ANDSF improvements and the peace process. Secretary Shanahon reaffirmed US Government commitment to support Afghan-led and Intra-Afghan peace talks.”

Mohib thanked the delegation for US government facilitation and commitment to the peace process, both sides agreed and reassured that achievement of the past 18 years of the people and the government of Afghanistan will not go in vain after a possible successful peace deal.

Afghan Defense Minister Asadullah Khaled also met his US counterpart, where both discussed current defense and security situation of Afghanistan.

Khaled pointed out to the recent army achievements, appreciated US for comprehensive assistance and has asked for further assistance in the aspect of strengthening, professionalism and training of army.

Pentagon’s top official, Shanahan pledged to support the army, also assured his country’s commitment for not letting the Afghan army alone in combating terrorism.

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