Top Pentagon official in Afghanistan amid push for peace

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — The Pentagon’s top official has arrived in Afghanistan to meet with U.S. commanders and Afghan leaders amid a push for peace with the Taliban.

The unannounced visit is the first for the acting secretary of defense, Pat Shanahan. He previously was the No. 2 official under Jim Mattis, who resigned as defense chief in December.

Shanahan told reporters traveling with him that he wants to stress to the Afghans that they must ultimately decide their own future, including how any peace is achieved with the Taliban.

He said he has no instruction from the White House to reduce the troop presence in Afghanistan from the current 14,000.

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