Published On: Wed, Sep 27th, 2017

Mattis, Stoltenberg on surprise visit to Afghanistan

Kabul: US Defence Secretary James Mattis and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg arrived on Wednesday on a surprise visit to Afghanistan, where they will meet with the Afghan President.

Mattis and Stoltenberg had arrived at the NATO headquarters in Kabul

The NATO mission in Afghanistan posted on its official Twitter account that Mattis and Stoltenberg had arrived at the NATO headquarters in Kabul, where they will inspect the international troops and meet Afghan authorities, including President Ashraf Ghani.

“Discussions will focus on the NATO-Afghanistan partnership, including the ongoing NATO-led Resolute Support Mission in support of the Afghan National Defense and security forces,” said NATO in a statement.

The visit by Mattis is the first since US President Donald Trump announced on August 21 a new strategy in Afghanistan involving an increase in the number of troops deployed in the country and no planned withdrawal date.

Mattis, who arrived in Afghanistan after an official visit to India, said last week that the Pentagon expects this increase to amount to some 3,000 soldiers.

The conflict in Afghanistan – which has lasted for almost 16 years and is the longest war in US history – currently involves around 11,000 American troops fighting amidst a resurgence of violence and a strong Taliban presence in the country.

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