Acting Pentagon chief makes first Afghanistan trip as US seeks peace deal

File photo: Acting US Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan speaks during the Missile Defense Review announcement at the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia, US. Photograph:( Reuters )

Reuters Kabul, Afghanistan Feb 11, 2019, 10.06 AM (IST)

Patrick Shanahan arrived in Afghanistan on Monday on his first trip as acting US defence secretary and said it was important the Afghan government is involved in talks, from which it has so far been sidelined, to end the 17-year-old war.

"It is important that the Afghan government is involved in discussions regarding Afghanistan," Shanahan told a small group of reporters travelling with him on the unannounced trip.

He said the United States has important security interests in the region and wanted to hear from commanders on the ground.

Shanahan replaced Jim Mattis, who quit in December over policy differences with US President Donald Trump. He will meet US military officials and the Afghan leadership, including President Ashraf Ghani.