Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan has arrived in Afghanistan on
Monday for his first overseas trip since replacing James Mattis. His
arrival comes amid intense peace talks between the US and the Taliban.
Shanahan’s visit isn’t directly related to the peace talks, which are going on primarily in Doha, Qatar. He did, however, address the government’s position that they believe it is important for the Ghani government to be involved in the final discussions.
The US has been giving lip-service to this idea for awhile, though indications are that they are planning to replace the Afghan government with an “interim government” that they’d give the Taliban positions within, a key part of why the US wanted the Afghan elections delayed.
President Ghani has been expressing growing concern about the peace process, saying he’ll never allow a deal that doesn’t leave him as the final decision-maker. That, if anything, is likely the goal of Shanahan’s visit, to reassure Ghani that the US is not casting him off entirely, at least not at this point.
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