U.S. Acting Defense Secretary Pat Shanahan has arrived in Afghanistan on an unannounced visit to meet with military commanders and Afghan officials amid a heightened push by Washington for a peace deal with the Taliban.
The Afghan Office of the National Security Council said Hamdullah Mohib, the country's national security advisor, had discussed the peace process with Shanahan.
'There are no orders to reduce United States troop levels in Afghanistan, ' he said. "The US military has strong security interests in the region".
Ghani spoke last week with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who also stressed the importance of the Afghan government being at the centre of the peace process.
But it raises fears in Afghanistan that the USA could exit before securing a lasting peace between the Taliban and the Kabul government.
The acting defence chief also said he could not make any guarantees because U.S. peace envoy Zalmay Khalilzad was leading the talks. But the Taliban have refused to engage with the government in Kabul.
Shanahan's trip comes as the USA special envoy for Afghanistan, Zalmay Khalilzad, is setting off on a visit to several key countries as part of efforts to push a US peace initiative for the war-torn country.
Khalilzad, the former USA ambassador to Kabul, had a six-day consultation with Afghan Taliban last month in Qatar.
Khalilzad had said that the Taliban would guarantee that Afghanistan will never be used as a base for terrorism in return for a full American withdrawal from the country and that Taliban concessions must include a ceasefire and agreement to hold talks with the Afghan government. Shanahan, a former Boeing executive and Mattis' deputy, is seen as a relative outsider in foreign policy circles.
It said the trip is intended "to facilitate a peace process that protects US national security interests and brings all Afghan parties together in an intra-Afghan dialogue through which they can determine a path for their country's future". "It's not about the United States; it's about Afghanistan".
He told reporters that his goal on the trip was to get an understanding of the situation on the ground from commanders and then brief Mr Trump on his findings.
A spokesman of the Defense Ministry, Ghafoor Ahmad Jawed, said military operations by Afghan forces are ongoing in at least 15 provinces.
Shanahan's views on the Afghan war are not widely known.
Shanahan, in his first trip in his new role, said he's encouraged that President Trump's administration is exploring all possibilities for ending the 17-year war, the longest in American history.
Afghanistan's special forces units suffered increasingly heavy casualties previous year as the Taliban mounted major assaults on provincial centres including Ghazni and Farah in the southwest.