FILE PHOTO: U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis gestures during a press briefing at the Pentagon in Washington, U.S., May 19, 2017. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas FILE PHOTO: U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis gestures during a press briefing at the Pentagon in Washington, U.S., May 19, 2017. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas

Mattis makes surprise visit to Afghanistan

By: MENA
Fri, Sep. 7, 2018
KABUL - 7 September 2018: US Defense Secretary James Mattis arrived in Kabul on Friday to meet the new commander of NATO troops in Afghanistan and discuss progress on talks with the Taliban, despite deteriorating security and turmoil within the Afghan government, CNBC channel reported.

The United States is a year into its latest attempt to step up pressure on the Taliban by increasing air strikes and sending thousands more troops to train and advise Afghan forces, but the effort has yet to make Afghanistan more secure and stable. The 17-year-old war is America's longest conflict.

Mattis is accompanied by Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Marine General Joseph Dunford. The surprise visit is Mattis' fourth time in the country since becoming defense secretary, and it's part of a larger trip including stops in San Diego and India, added the channel.

US Army General Scott Miller assumed command of NATO forces in Afghanistan on Sunday, arriving as Washington faces growing questions over its strategy to force the Taliban into talks to end the grinding conflict.

Speaking with reporters this week, Mattis said he was hopeful about peace talks with the Taliban.

"Right now, we have more indications that reconciliation is no longer just a shimmer out there, no longer just a mirage," Mattis said.

"It now has some framework, there's some open lines of communication," Mattis added.
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