A senior U.S. diplomat is set to lead a large delegation on a six-nation tour, including Afghanistan, to boost that country's peace process and bring "all Afghan parties together in an intra-Afghan dialogue", the State Department said Sunday.
"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.
Shanahan, who took over the job after Jim Mattis quit in December over policy differences with U.S. President Donald Trump, said he could not make any guarantees because U.S. peace envoy Zalmay Khalilzad was leading the talks.
Shanahan took over as acting secretary of defense on January 1 after Jim Mattis submitted his resignation in December. Those include the involvement of the Afghan government, which the Taliban refuse to acknowledge.
The next round of talks is due in Qatar on February 25.
Khalilzad told an audience at the U.S. Institute of Peace on Friday that he hopes a final deal can be clinched before Afghanistan's presidential election in July.
Besides talking with Afghan government officials, Shanahan is also expected to meet U.S. troops and commanders on the ground during his first overseas visit in an official capacity.
Trump has already said he is pulling out all 2,000 USA troops in Syria, where they have been aiding a Syrian Arab and Kurdish alliance fighting against the Islamic State and other insurgent groups.
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An expert team will be dispatched to the archipelago to assess the situation and prevent the predators' attacks on humans. The military personnel and employees are delivered to workplaces by special vehicles, while the area is patrolled.
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The junta leader, Prayuth Chan-ocha, is also contesting the race for prime minister as the candidate of a pro-military party. Thailand's king has crushed the plans of his older sister to become a candidate for the country's prime minister.
Shanahan's views on the Afghan war are not widely known.
While the USA talks with the Taliban have focused on troop presence and assurances that terrorist networks would not be given haven, Khalilzad said intra-Afghan talks could also deal with human rights, freedom of the press and the role of women, who were harshly oppressed under Taliban rule.
But it raises fears in Afghanistan that the USA could exit before securing a lasting peace between the Taliban and the Kabul government. Just last week, the insurgents killed some two dozen Afghan troops in an attack on an army base in northern Kunduz province. "Left unchecked", Votel said in his report to Congress, ISIS-Khorasan "will continue to grow as a threat to our homeland".
It was not immediately clear if Shanahan and Khalilzad would be conducting joint discussions during their trips. He said ISIS still has a global presence.
United States troop numbers in Afghanistan since 2001.
In televised remarks on January 2, Trump said he "essentially fired" Mattis, who had been one of the longest-serving and most respected members of the USA cabinet.
"Of course it has given leverage to the Taliban, there is no question about that", the official said.
Ghani has expressed alarm at the Taliban shutting his administration out of negotiations with the United States as well as recent Moscow talks with Afghan opposition politicians, and repeated earlier offers to give the group a secure official address to aid any future diplomacy between the two sides.