US National Security Advisor General H.R. McMaster arrived in Kabul on Sunday days after the American military dropped its largest non-nuclear bomb on Islamic State group hideouts in eastern Afghanistan, killing nearly a hundred militants.
On his first visit to the country as President Donald Trump’s envoy, McMaster said on Twitter he was set to hold “very important talks on mutual cooperation” with President Ashraf Ghani and other top officials.
A statement from Ghani’s office later said McMaster discussed security issues and counter-terrorism efforts as well as reforms aimed at tackling corruption.
“As a result of joint Afghan and international forces efforts, no safe havens will be left for terrorists in Afghanistan,” McMaster was quoted as saying in a readout that gave few clues to the Trump administration’s future course of action in the country.
US-led NATO troops have been at war in Afghanistan since 2001, after the ousting of the Taliban regime for refusing to hand over Osama bin Laden following the 9/11 attacks in the United States.
The US has around 8,400 troops in the country with about another 5,000 from NATO allies, as efforts to negotiate a lasting peace settlement between Kabul and the Taliban have repeatedly fallen through.
On Thursday the US military in Afghanistan dropped its GBU-43/B Massive Ordnance Air Blast, dubbed the “Mother of All Bombs” in combat for the first time. The target was IS hideouts in the Achin district of Nangarhar province.
Afghanistan’s defence ministry on Sunday put the death toll at 95 militants and no civilians.
The attack triggered global shockwaves, with some condemning the use of Afghanistan as what they called a testing ground for the weapon, and against a militant group that is not considered as big a threat as the resurgent Taliban.
It came a week after US President Donald Trump ordered missile strikes against Syria in retaliation for a suspected chemical attack, and as China warned of the potential for conflict amid rising US tensions with North Korea.