Pentagon chief meets Afghan president

Published December 23, 2020
US Defe­nce Secretary Christ­opher Miller met on Tuesday Afghan President Ashraf Ghani in Kabul during an unannounced visit to Afghanistan. — Photo courtesy: Afghan President's Office Twitter
US Defe­nce Secretary Christ­opher Miller met on Tuesday Afghan President Ashraf Ghani in Kabul during an unannounced visit to Afghanistan. — Photo courtesy: Afghan President's Office Twitter

WASHINGTON: US Defe­nce Secretary Christ­opher Miller met on Tuesday Afghan President Ashraf Ghani in Kabul during an unannounced visit to Afghanistan.

Miller, who is acting head of the Pentagon until Pres­ident-elect Joe Biden takes office next month, and Ghani discussed the ongoing talks with the Taliban, which the Defense Department said in a statement were a “historic opportunity” to achieve pea­ce in the war-torn country.

Miller also met with the head of US forces in Afghanistan, General Scott Miller, “to gain his assessment of the overall security situation to include the current counter-terrorism and Train, Advise and Assist missions, the level of Taliban violence and the ongoing drawdown of US forces,” according to the statement.

Eager to put an end to America’s “endless wars,” the outgoing Republican Pre­s­ident Donald Trump deci­ded to reduce the US military presence in Afghanistan to 2,500 troops by January 15.

The move accelerates a timeline the US agreed on in an earlier deal with the Taliban, which provides for total withdrawal of American forces by May 2021 in exchange for security guarantees.

The US military had some 13,000 troops in Afghanistan a year ago and had reduced the level to 4,500 as of November.

Published in Dawn, December 23rd, 2020

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