US Secretary of Defense Mark Esper has surprisingly traveled to Afghanistan. The Washington government is currently seeking to revive talks with the radical Islamic Taliban after President Donald Trump abruptly broke off negotiations.
Goal continues to be a peace agreement with the Taliban, Esper told journalists, as the news agency Reuters reported. The plan was to hold talks with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and a visit to US troops.
In early September, Trump had ended the peace talks with the Taliban. The US President justified the cancellation of the talks with the recent attack in Kabul, in which twelve people were killed, including a US soldier (read more here).
Troops moving to Iraq
Esper's visit to Afghanistan comes at a difficult time: The US has abruptly withdrawn its troops from northern Syria and triggered a chain reaction (read more in the SPIEGEL title story). Turkey began its military offensive against Kurdish militias in the region, which, allied with the US, fought against the terrorist militia "Islamic State" (IS).
There are fears, among other things, that imprisoned IS fighters could flee there. That would also affect the security situation in Europe.
Prior to his trip to Afghanistan, Esper said that nearly all US troops leaving Syria should be transferred to Iraq. In the west of the country, the approximately 1000 soldiers will then continue the campaign against the IS terrorist militia. The troop withdrawal continues quickly, he would "weeks, not days," said Esper.
Recently it was expected that some of the soldiers, most of whom were special forces, could be transferred to Jordan or back to the US, as well as Iraq.