KABUL (CNN) – U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis has made a surprise visit to Afghanistan’s war-torn capital city.
Mattis touched down in the country Friday morning and is scheduled to meet with Army Gen. Scott Miller, the new Commander of Resolute Support and US Forces-Afghanistan who assumed the role last week.
Earlier this week, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo named veteran diplomat Zalmay Khalilzad as a newly-named State Department special envoy to Afghanistan.
Khalilzad, Pompeo said, would be “full time focused on developing the opportunities to get the Afghans and the Taliban to come to a reconciliation.”
The topic of reconciliation was a prominent one as both secretaries traveled the region this week.
During a dialogue in New Delhi on Thursday, Pompeo, Mattis, and their Indian counterparts, “reaffirmed their shared commitment to a united, sovereign, democratic, inclusive, stable, prosperous, and peaceful Afghanistan,” according to a joint statement.
On Wednesday, Pompeo told reporters he discussed with Pakistani officials “the work that we all know that we need to do to try and develop a peaceful resolution in Afghanistan, which benefits certainly Afghanistan but also the United States and Pakistan.”
The US has accused Pakistan of granting a safe haven to militants waging war in neighboring Afghanistan — a charge Pakistan denies.
In July, a senior State Department official met for discussions with Taliban officials in Doha, Qatar.
The two secretaries touched down in the country amid a bloody start to September.
One US service member was killed and another was wounded Monday in “an apparent insider attack” in eastern Afghanistan, according to a statement from the NATO-led coalition in Afghanistan, Resolute Support.
On Wednesday, 20 people — including two journalists — were killed in Kabul in twin bomb attacks on a wrestling club. ISIS claimed responsibility for that attack. A recent UN report said the number of Afghan civilians killed in the first six months of this year has reached a record high.
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