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No troop cut planned, says acting US Defence Secretary during Afghanistan visit

IANS  |  Kabul 

There have been no orders from the administration to reduce the presence in Afghanistan, acting US said on Monday as he arrived in the war-torn South Asian country on an unannounced visit.

On his first trip to since assuming office after the resignation of in December, Shanahan said he didn't receive any orders like that, news reported. The withdrawal of foreign forces from is one of the Taliban's key demands in peace negotiations with US officials.

His remarks were in contrast to the US President's stance, who had earlier made clear his desire to bring an end to the 17-year Afghan conflict and withdraw the vast bulk of American forces.

"Afghans must control their own future and be involved in ongoing peace discussions and there are no orders to reduce US troop levels in Afghanistan," Shanahan said, according to Dave Butler, for Resolute Support, the NATO training mission in

said Shanahan would meet with both the government and leadership and the talks would focus on national security concerns related to Afghanistan.

Shanahan was scheduled to meet Afghan officials, including and coalition military commanders amid growing momentum in peace talks with the

He also met his Afghan counterpart in and reassured him that the would not abandon Afghan soldiers in their battle against the militants.

"(The) reaffirmed the US assistances to the and assured that the US will not let the Afghan forces alone and will continue its assistance to them in fields of training, equipping and counter-terrorism efforts," the said in a statement.

The US and representatives held multiple rounds of talks in the and amid opposition by which insisted on having a central role in the peace talks. But the have refused to engage with the government in

The visit came as US on Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad, who held talks with Taliban representatives lately, began a trip to Belgium, Germany, Turkey, Qatar, Afghanistan and on Sunday.

Earlier, he hailed the US-Taliban talks as "more productive than they have been in the past", saying they made "significant progress on vital issues".

However, the Taliban have threatened to derail the negotiations unless it secures a commitment from the US about the withdrawal of foreign forces from Afghanistan.

--IANS

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(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Mon, February 11 2019. 18:04 IST
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