September 2018
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James Mattis makes surprise visit to Afghanistan
(Kabul, Sep 07, 2018):A day after attending the inaugural 2+2 talks in India, United States Secretary of Defence James Mattis on Friday made an unannounced visit to Kabul.

Mattis, who is on his second visit to Afghanistan, is slated to meet with the new Commander of Resolute Support and US Forces-Afghanistan, Army General Scott Miller and Afghan President Ashraf Ghani.

On Tuesday, US Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo named Zalmay Khalilzad as the new State Department special envoy to Afghanistan. Explaining the latter's role, Pompeo said that he would be "focused full time on developing the opportunities to get the Afghans and the Taliban to come to a reconciliation," CNN reported.

In the inaugural 2+2 dialogue in New Delhi, Pompeo, Mattis and their counterparts - External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman - "reaffirmed their shared commitment to a united, sovereign, democratic, inclusive, stable, prosperous, and peaceful Afghanistan," as per a joint statement.

On his brief stopover to Pakistan on Wednesday, Pompeo held talks with Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi, Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan and other high-ranking officials in a bid to "reset" the stalled bilateral ties between Washington and Islamabad.

Pompeo stressed for ending the decade-old conflict in Afghanistan, adding that "the work that we all know that we need to do to try and develop a peaceful resolution in Afghanistan, which benefits certainly Afghanistan, but also the US and Pakistan."

The Secretary of State had himself made an unannounced visit to Afghanistan in July and said that Washington was fully willing to assist Ghani's efforts on resuming peace negotiations with the Taliban.

Washington has accused Islamabad of harbouring terrorists and granting them safe havens to carry out attacks in Afghanistan, which Pakistan has repeatedly denied.

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