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Pentagon chief in Kabul to meet President Ghani

Pentagon chief in Kabul to meet President Ghani

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On
Sep 07, 2018 - 13:33

KABULinfo-icon (Pajhwok): US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis arrived in Kabul for a surprise visit on Friday morning to meet with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and the new commander of NATOinfo-icon troops in Afghanistaninfo-icon.

Presidential spokesman Haroon Chakhansuri told Pajhwok Afghan News Mattis is accompanied by the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Marine General Joseph Dunford.

The US Defense Secretary is expected to discuss progress in talks with the Talibaninfo-icon with President Ghani and meet with US Army General Scott Miller, who assumed command of NATO forces in Afghanistan on Sept 2.

Speaking with reporters this week, Mattis said he was hopeful about peace talks, despite a recent spate of savage attacks by the Taliban and the Islamic State group that have left hundreds of security forces and civilians dead.

"Right now, we have more indications that reconciliation is no longer just a shimmer out there, no longer just a mirage," Mattis said. "It now has some framework, there's some open lines of communication."

Over the summer, a top US State Department official met Taliban officials in Qatar to try to lay the ground work for broader peace talks and and this week, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo appointed a new special envoy to Afghanistan, Zalmai Khalilzad, tasked with encouraging reconciliation efforts.

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