KABUL – US Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis arrived on Tuesday on a surprise visit to Afghanistan to meet with Afghan authorities and commanders of the US forces and NATO in the country.
The visit by Mattis comes at a time when the Afghan government is actively looking to broker peace talks with the Taliban.
“US Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis has arrived for a periodic visit,” Tom Gresback, Public Affairs Director at the Resolute Support Mission of the NATO forces in Afghanistan, told EFE.
Mattis will meet with the NATO command and the Afghan authorities, according to the spokesperson.
Shah Hussain Murtazawi, spokesperson for Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, told EFE that information on each of the meetings will be released as and when they are available.
The visit comes two weeks after the Afghan president offered non-conditional peace talks and political recognition to the Taliban although the rebels are yet to respond to the offer.
Ghani’s announcement had come days before the insurgent group had proposed to hold talks with the US, after refusing talk offers for years.
During his last visit to Afghanistan in September, Mattis had assured local authorities the US will not abandon Afghanistan to a ruthless enemy, and underlined US President Donald Trump’s decision to increase troop deployment to Afghanistan.
Afghanistan is going through one of its bloodiest phases after the end in 2015 of the NATO mission, which, however, continues to be present in the country to train Afghan forces.