Patrick Shanahan (pictured) replaced Jim Mattis who quit in December [File: Kevin Lamarque/Reuters]

Patrick Shanahan, the US acting secretary of defence, has arrived in Afghanistan on an unannounced visit.

Shanahan will meet Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, whose government was not part of major talks between US and Taliban officials last month that negotiators hope could bring a breakthrough in the 17-year conflict.

“It is important that the Afghan government is involved in discussions

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