KABUL - *US Defense Secretary James Mattis held discussions with President Ashraf Ghani during his trip to Kabul on Tuesday. *
CEO Abdullah Abdullah, National Security Council Chief Mohammad Hanif Atmar and other high-ranking officials also attended the Ghani-Mattis meeting.
Addressing all those present, Ghani said: "Let me begin with the tribute to your fallen heroes. And please convey our gratitude as a nation, as a state to the Gold Star families. You spend a lot of time with them and their sacrifice will never be forgotten.”
He also discussed the peace offer that has been made to the Taliban and the offer of comprehensive talks to Pakistan. The president said these offers had been made possible because of the Trump Administration's South Asia strategy.
"Because of the game-changing nature of the strategy we, the government of national unity, offered peace to the Taliban and a comprehensive dialogue to Pakistan. These two steps could have only been taken in the context of the South Asia strategy,” Ghani said at the meeting.
The US defense secretary’s visit to Kabul comes two weeks after the Kabul Process conference in which the Afghan government announced a peace offer to the Taliban.
Addressing reporters, on Tuesday Mattis meanwhile said the United States is picking up signs of interest from Taliban elements in exploring the possibility of talks with Kabul to end the more than 16-year-old war in Afghanistan .