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 ShanahanHouse Armed Services chairman expresses confidence in Esper amid aircraft carrier coronavirus crisis Boeing pleads for bailout under weight of coronavirus, 737 fallout Esper's chief of staff to depart at end of January 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 John TrumpSteele Dossier sub-source was subject of FBI counterintelligence probe Pelosi slams Trump executive order on pre-existing conditions: It 'isn't worth the paper it's signed on' Trump 'no longer angry' at Romney because of Supreme Court stance 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.