US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson arrived at Bagram Air Base where he met Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and other senior officials to outline the Trump administration's new South Asia policy, says the US State Department.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, left, speaks with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani before their meeting, Monday, Oct. 23, 2017, at Bagram Air Field, Afghanistan.
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, left, speaks with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani before their meeting, Monday, Oct. 23, 2017, at Bagram Air Field, Afghanistan. (AP)

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson made an unannounced visit to Afghanistan on Monday for talks with Afghan leaders on the new US strategy to end the war.

Tillerson's first trip to the country as the Secretary of State came several weeks after US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis paid an unannounced visit. 

Tillerson reiterated the US commitment to working with the Kabul government and regional partners "to achieve peace in Afghanistan and deny safe havens to terrorists who threaten that goal," said a statement posted on Twitter. 

"Clearly we have to continue to fight against the Taliban, against others, in order for them to understand they will never win a military victory," Tillerson told reporters after the meeting that was also attended by Afghan Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah. 

"And there are, we believe, moderate voices among the Taliban, voices that do not want to continue to fight forever. They don't want their children to fight forever. So we are looking to engage with those voices and have them engage in a reconciliation process, leading to a peace process and their full involvement and participation in the government."

"There's a place for them in the government if they are ready to come, renouncing terrorism, renouncing violence and being committed to a stable prosperous Afghanistan," Tillerson said.

Tillerson and US General John Nicholson, the top American commander in Afghanistan, met for about one hour with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and Chief Executive Abdullah at Bagram Air Field outside Kabul.

"The US has made it clear in terms of our support for Afghanistan, support a sovereign unified Afghanistan, a democratic Afghanistan, of charting a path to peace, prosperity and self-reliance," Tillerson told the small group of reporters allowed to accompany him to Kabul. 

"It is imperative in the end that we are denying safe haven to any terrorist organizations or any extremists to any part of this world."

"We also want to work with regional partners to ensure that there are no threats in the region," he said. 

"This is very much a regional effort as you saw. It was rolled out in the strategy itself, demanding that others deny safe haven to terrorists anywhere in the region. We are working closely with Pakistan as well."

He praised Ghani for his reform efforts, notably to curb corruption, and to prepare for parliamentary elections next year.

The US President Donald Trump rolled out his South Asia strategy last month and made clear that his approach to the region will be inclusive of its three main nations: Afghanistan, India and Pakistan and defeating the Taliban and other groups. 

Tillerson said he will visit Pakistan on Tuesday to discuss US requests for specific actions against the Afghan Taliban and other groups based there. 

He will visit India after Pakistan to discuss cooperation in Afghanistan and the wider Indo-Pacific region.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies