Acting U.S. defense secretary Patrick Shanahan arrived in Afghanistan on Monday and said it was important the Afghan government is involved in talks, from which it has so far been excluded, to end the 17-year-old war.
Shanahan, who will meet U.S. troops and Afghan President Ashraf Ghani on his first trip in his new role, said he had so far not received any direction to reduce the nearly 14,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan.
He also said the United States has important security interests in the region.
Ghani’s government has been shut out of the evolving peace talks between Taliban negotiators and U.S. envoys..
“It is important that the Afghan government is involved in discussions regarding Afghanistan,” Shanahan told a small group of reporters traveling with him on the unannounced trip.