US’ Patrick Shanahan makes surprise Afghan visit, urges Kabul’s involvement in peace talks

Patrick Shanahan
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Acting United States defence secretary Patrick Shanahan has made his surprise visit to Afghanistan on Monday, to discuss Afghan peace talks and urged Kabul that the Afghan government involvement in the discussion is important, from which it has been excluded.

According to Reuters news reports, Shanahan, who was scheduled to meet Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and the US troops in the region, said till so far now, he had received no confirmation to reduce 14,000 US troops from Afghanistan. He also said the US has important security interests in war-torn Afghan country.

While travelling to Afghan, Shanahan told reporters, “It is important that the Afghan government is involved in discussions regarding Afghanistan. The Afghans have to decide what Afghanistan looks like in the future. It’s not about the U.S., it is about Afghanistan.”

Shanahan said he could not make any sudden guarantees as the US special envoy for Afghan Zalmay Khalilzad was leading the peace talks.

He said, “The U.S. military has strong security interests in the region. (The) presence will evolve out of those discussions.”

He reiterated his goal over this trip was to receive an understanding of the situation from commanders, on the grounds, and further brief the US President Donald Trump on his findings.

Earlier, over their several rounds of talks with the Taliban in Qatar, both sides have hailed the progress made. The next round of talks is due on February 25 in Qatar.

South Asia specialist at the Woodrow Wilson Center Michael Kugelman said, “The top priority of Shanahan has to be to impress upon the government that we’re going to do everything we can to get you into this conversation.”


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