Priority is to end war in Afghanistan: United States

The White House has said the priority of President Donald Trump-led administration is to end the war in Afghanistan and to ensure the civil war-ravaged country never becomes a base for terrorism. Speaking to reporters during her first conference of the year, White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said, "Our priority is to end the war in Afghanistan and to ensure that there is never a base for terrorism in Afghanistan again."

She added that negotiations are going to continue, she said. Recently, The New York Times reported that the US and Taliban have reached an agreement in principle on Afghan peace deal. Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan told reporters at the Pentagon that the talks with the Taliban by Special US Representatives Zalmay Khalilzad is encouraging. He said the Pentagon has not been asked to prepare for a full withdrawal from Afghanistan,. NATO Secretary General Stoltenberg to the Pentagon said that the alliance continues to remain with the United States in Afghanistan.

"We welcome the talks with Taliban," he said and added that Khalilzad briefed all allies a few weeks ago. "The reason why NATO is in Afghanistan is to create a condition for peaceful solution to make sure that Afghanistan never again becomes a safe haven for international terrorists and to send a message to Taliban that they will not win on the battlefield, so they have to sit down at the negotiating table, and therefore we are encouraged by what we see now, the progress and talks with Taliban," Stoltenberg stated. He said NATO is in Afghanistan to create the conditions for a peaceful, negotiated solution. We are there to train and assist and advise the Afghan soldiers so they can take care of security and stability in Afghanistan themselves, he added.