Afghanistan: US Defense Secretary meets with Afghan leaders in Kabul

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KABUL (TCA) — US Defense Secretary James Mattis arrived in an unannounced visit to Kabul on September 7 and held talks with Afghanistan’s President Ashraf Ghani and Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah at the Presidential Palace, Afghan broadcaster TOLOnews reported.

The Afghan and US officials discussed peace process, impact of US South Asia strategy, reforms in Afghan National Defense and Security Forces, upcoming parliamentary and presidential elections, counter-terrorism and dialogue with Pakistan.

Mattis commended the National Unity Government’s efforts in different sectors particularly counter-terrorism, reforms and fighting against corruption. He also commended Afghan forces’ “bravery” in defending the country.

Mattis said the US government and people will stay with Afghan people and government until there is lasting peace and stability in the country. He said US will continue its cooperation in different sectors including security, economy and strengthening of bilateral relations with Afghanistan.

Speaking with reporters this week, Mattis said he was hopeful about peace talks with the Taliban.

“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,” he added.

This comes after last month a top US State Department official met with Taliban officials in Qatar to lay the groundwork for broader peace talks.

The US government has pointed toward the Taliban’s accepting a temporary truce in June as a sign of why the talks should be viewed with hope.

Sergey Kwan

TCA