US Defence Secretary arrives in Afghanistan

Kabul [Afghanistan], Mar 13 : United States Defence Secretary James Mattis made an unannounced visit to Afghan capital Kabul on Tuesday. Mattis is scheduled to meet Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani to exchange views on matters relating to mutual interests, including the war on terror and the peace processin Afghanistan. He will also meet US commanders and allied troops posted in the country, TOLO news reported. "We do look toward a victory in Afghanistan. Not a military victory, the victory will be a political reconciliation with the Taliban, which has achieved a stalemate in recent years and shown little interest in conceding to the Kabul government," Mattis added. The visit comes two weeks after President Ghani invited the Taliban to begin peace talks without preconditions to end the 16-year-old war in the Kabul Process Conference last month. The group said last month that it was open to reaching a political settlement and negotiating, but has not responded to President Ghani's peace offer so far. Afghanistan has been ravaged by a series of deadly terrorist attacks in the last few months, which has claimed over 150 lives, particularly in Kabul. Most recently, nine people were killed in a suicide bombing on Friday, close to a ceremony on the death anniversary of Abdul Ali Mazari, a slain leader of the Islamic Unity Party of Afghanistan. The defence secretary, who commanded US troops as a Marine general in southern Afghanistan during the war with the Taliban in 2001, said that getting the militants on board for reconciliation may be a bridge too far. This is Mattis's second visit to the war-torn country after he last visited in September. In August last year, US President Donald Trump asserted that his administration would take a more aggressive approach to deal with the Afghan conflict and to pull out US troops from Afghanistan.
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