Saturday 23 February 2019
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business-standard - 12 days ago

Acting Pentagon chief Patrick Shanahan meets Afghan president in Kabul

Acting Pentagon chief Patrick Shanahan made an unannounced visit to Afghanistan Monday, where he met with President Ashraf Ghani as the United States leads a push for peace talks with the Taliban. The visit comes after Washington held major talks with Taliban officials in Qatar last month that negotiators hope could herald a breakthrough in the grinding 17-year conflict. US President Donald Trump is pushing to end US involvement in Afghanistan, where 14,000 American troops are still deployed -- raising Afghan fears that Washington could exit before securing a lasting peace between the Taliban and the Kabul government. Shanahan told reporters earlier that he had no instructions from Washington to begin a withdrawal, however. I have not been directed to step down our forces in Afghanistan, Shanahan said. I think the presence we want in Afghanistan is what assures our homeland defence and supports regional stability. He said it was crucial Kabul, whose representatives were not at the

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