The meeting at the Pentagon included US Vice
President Mike Pence, Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff,
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, CIA Director Gina Haspel and Trump’s national
security adviser John Bolton, among others, the report said.
The session was a classified briefing about Afghanistan, according to a White House official who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the subject of the private briefing, according to the Associated Press.
The Pentagon has been developing plans to withdraw as many as half of the 14,000 troops still in Afghanistan.
Patrick Shanahan, acting secretary of defense, said he has no
orders to reduce the US troop presence, although officials say that is at the
top of the Taliban’s list of demands in exploratory peace negotiations.
This comes after the US Department of State said on Wednesday that the Taliban in talks with the US negotiators made meaningful progress in Qatar talks.
“We’ve received reports back from Special Representative Khalilzad that they’ve had meaningful progress,” Robert Palladino, the State Department’s deputy spokesperson, told reporters at a daily briefing in Washington on Tuesday.
He said that in the fresh round of talks, the two sides were able to move to agreement in draft on the first two principles.
“In this round of talks, we were able to move to agreement in draft on the first two principles, counterterrorism assurances and troop withdrawal. And when that agreement in draft is finalized, Taliban and an inclusive Afghan negotiating team that includes the Afghan government and other Afghans to begin intra-Afghan negotiation for a political settlement and a comprehensive ceasefire,” he added.
Hours after the news broke on Qatar talks, US Special Envoy Zalmay Khalilzad said in a tweet that he wrapped up a marathon round of talks with Taliban in Doha.
Khalilzad said peace requires agreement on four issues: counterterrorism assurances, troop withdrawal, intra-Afghan dialogue, and a comprehensive ceasefire.