Acting Pentagon chief makes unannounced Afghanistan trip

Lester Mason
February 11, 2019

Shanahan said from his plane that he had no orders to "step down our forces in Afghanistan", but was tasked with supporting ongoing peace talks between Washington and the Taliban.

A senior U.S. diplomat is set to lead a large delegation on a six-nation tour, including Afghanistan, to boost that country´s peace process and bring "all Afghan parties together in an intra-Afghan dialogue", the State Department said Sunday.

"Our demand about having an official political office is clear, we want that our office in Doha is recognized by the worldwide community and the United Nations", Shahin said.

US Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad left Washington on Sunday on yet another peace mission that includes talks in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Qatar.

If the Taliban were hold talks with the Kabul government, it would mean that it had "accepted this stooge regime as a legitimate government (even though it was) imposed upon us by air craft and (the) bombing of invaders", he said.

Khalilzad said Friday that he hoped to see a peace deal in place before Afghanistan´s July presidential elections. But Khalilzad emphasised that any troop withdrawal would depend on conditions on the ground.

When asked about Pakistan's role in bringing the Taliban to the negotiating table, Mr. Mujahid said: "There is no role being played by any outside country". The correspondence came after Trump accused Pakistan of "doing nothing" despite receiving "billions of dollars" in aid.

Acting US Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan landed in Afghanistan for an unannounced visit Monday amid increasing uncertainty about the future of the longest-running US war in history. The Afghan president has already made several attempts to engage the Taliban, but the insurgents continue to refuse to hold directs talks his government.

"It's important that the Afghan government is involved in discussions regarding Afghanistan", Shanahan told reporters on the flight. "It's not about the USA, it's about Afghanistan".

After almost 18 years of US-led war in Afghanistan, the acting Pentagon chief, who temporarily took over after James Mattis resigned over Trump's decision to pull out of Syria, said that Afghanis must decide they future on "their own" - including how to deal with the Taliban.

The resolution includes a demand for the withdrawal of all foreign troops, support to Doha talks, removing Taliban members from the United Nations blacklist, the release of their prisoners and legitimising Taliban's Qatar office.

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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