KABUL (Reuters) – Performing U.S. protection secretary Patrick Shanahan arrived in Afghanistan on Monday and stated it was essential the Afghan authorities is concerned in talks, from which it has to this point been excluded, to finish the 17-year-old struggle.

FILE PHOTO: Performing U.S. Secretary of Protection Patrick Shanahan speaks through the Missile Protection Overview announcement on the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia, U.S., January 17, 2019. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque/File Picture

Shanahan, who will meet U.S. troops and Afghan President Ashraf Ghani on his first journey in his new position, stated he had to this point not acquired any route to cut back the almost 14,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan.

He additionally stated the US has essential safety pursuits within the area.

Ghani’s authorities has been shut out of the evolving peace talks between Taliban negotiators and U.S. envoys, with the hardline Islamist motion branding his authorities a U.S. puppet. Kabul can also be involved {that a} sharp drawdown of U.S. forces might result in chaos within the area.

“It is crucial that the Afghan authorities is concerned in discussions concerning Afghanistan,” Shanahan advised a small group of reporters touring with him on the unannounced journey.

“The Afghans should determine what Afghanistan seems to be like sooner or later. It’s not in regards to the U.S., it’s about Afghanistan,” he stated.

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Shanahan took over from Jim Mattis, who stop in December over coverage variations with U.S. President Donald Trump.

He stated he couldn’t make any ensures as a result of U.S. peace envoy Zalmay Khalilzad was main the talks.

“The U.S. navy has robust safety pursuits within the area. (The) presence will evolve out of these discussions,” Shanahan stated.

He additionally stated his aim on the journey was to get an understanding of the scenario on the bottom from commanders after which to transient Trump on his findings.

U.S. officers have held a number of rounds of talks with the Taliban in Qatar since final 12 months in what’s extensively seen as probably the most severe bid but for peace in Afghanistan because the Taliban have been ousted by U.S.-backed Afghan forces in late 2001.

Either side hailed progress after the most recent spherical final month, though important obstacles stay. These embrace the involvement of the Afghan authorities, which the Taliban refuse to acknowledge.

The following spherical of talks is due in Qatar on Feb. 25.

Michael Kugelman, a South Asia specialist on the Woodrow Wilson Middle, stated Shanahan’s fundamental precedence in Kabul must be to handle Afghan authorities considerations.

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“The highest precedence of Shanahan needs to be to impress upon the federal government that we’re going to do all the pieces we will to get you into this dialog,” Kugelman stated.

‘LEVERAGE’

Shanahan can even should grapple with how a lot allies will belief him.

Mattis, a former four-star normal as soon as accountable for U.S. Central Command, was revered for his deep information of navy and international affairs. Shanahan, a former Boeing govt and Mattis’s deputy, is seen as a relative outsider in overseas coverage circles.

Afghanistan and neighboring international locations are additionally involved in regards to the impact a sudden withdrawal of U.S. forces might have on the area.

An Afghan official, talking on the situation of anonymity, advised Reuters that even the suggestion of U.S. troops doubtlessly leaving was harmful.

“After all it has given leverage to the Taliban, there isn’t any query about that,” the official stated.

Trump has provided no specifics about when he would deliver residence the 14,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan however has stated progress in negotiations with the Taliban would allow a troop discount and a “concentrate on counter-terrorism”.

Shanahan stated a withdrawal of about half the U.S. troops in Afghanistan was not one thing that was being mentioned at this level and he had not been directed to cut back troop numbers.

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“The presence we wish in Afghanistan is what assures our homeland protection and helps regional stability after which any sort of sizing is finished in a coordinated and disciplined method,” he stated.

Khalilzad stated after six days of talks with the Taliban in Doha final month the US and the Taliban had sketched the outlines for an eventual peace accord.

He has stated since then there had been progress on the way forward for U.S. troops in Afghanistan.

Nonetheless, the Taliban have put out contradictory info on what timeline the U.S. had agreed to in any potential withdrawal.

Most lately, a Taliban official stated no timetable had been agreed with the U.S. authorities for the partial withdrawal of U.S. forces.

U.S. officers have advised Reuters that, whereas no formal orders have been despatched, the navy is making ready for what a withdrawal of about half of the 14,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan would appear to be.

Reporting by Idrees Ali in Kabul; Modifying by Greg Torode and Paul Tait

Our Requirements:The Thomson Reuters Belief Ideas.

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