Acting Pentagon chief: Talks with Taliban 'encouraging,' no troop withdrawal plan yet

Acting Pentagon chief: Talks with Taliban 'encouraging,' no troop withdrawal plan yet
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Acting Secretary of Defense Patrick ShanahanPatrick Michael ShanahanProtection of critical military benefit shows bipartisanship can work Senators introducing bill to penalize Pentagon for failed audits Overnight Defense: National Guard boosts DC presence ahead of inauguration | Lawmakers demand probes into troops' role in Capitol riot | Financial disclosures released for Biden Pentagon nominee MORE said on Monday that there’s been “encouraging” progress in talks with the Taliban, though there is no concrete plan yet for the withdrawal of U.S. troops in Afghanistan.

Shanahan told reporters at the Pentagon that he would discuss possible troop drawdown plans after a meeting with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg.

“Hopefully, later on this week, when we get together we can talk about some of the encouraging conversations that are going on with the Taliban,” Shanahan said in his first remarks to the press since taking the acting role on Jan. 1.

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“Really, the takeaway right now, it’s encouraging,” he added.

Asked if he had been tasked with a full U.S. troop withdrawal from Afghanistan, Shanahan replied, “I have not.”

Speculation has been high around a possible U.S. troop pullout from Afghanistan following reports last month that President TrumpDonald TrumpHillicon Valley — State Dept. employees targets of spyware Ohio Republican Party meeting ends abruptly over anti-DeWine protesters Jan. 6 panel faces new test as first witness pleads the Fifth MORE was seeking a major withdrawal from the country.

That speculation has increased following reports over the weekend that U.S. and Taliban officials have agreed to an initial framework for a peace deal, which includes pulling foreign troops from the nation within 18 months.

Shanahan said he has been briefed on those talks.