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US Defense Secretary in Kabul for peace talks

The Pentagon's top official made an unannounced visit to Afghanistan on Monday to meet with US commanders and Afghan leaders amid a push for peace with the Taliban.

Pat Shanahan, the recently installed acting secretary of defense, was received in Kabul by Asadullah Khalid, Afghanistan's interim defense minister, and later held talks with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani.
Shanahan said he has no orders to reduce the US troop presence, although officials say that is at the top of the Taliban's list of demands in exploratory peace negotiations.
He also said he is encouraged that US President Donald Trump's administration is exploring all possibilities for ending a 17-year war, the longest in American history.
But he stressed that peace terms are for the Afghans to decide.
Thus far the Taliban have refused to negotiate with Ghani's government, calling it illegitimate.
Washington is trying to break that impasse.

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