Shanahan met with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, the country’s chief executive, Abdullah Abdullah, and defense minister Asadullah Khalid during the first few hours of his trip.
Shanahan’s trip comes after US President Donald Trump publicly questioned the benefits of a continued military presence in Afghanistan in multiple interviews.
Shanahan said from his plane that he had no orders to “step down our forces in Afghanistan,” but was tasked with supporting ongoing peace talks between Washington and the Taliban.
Those talks have provided a glimmer of hope of an end to the war.
Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said talks with the US “saw progress” on vital issues. However he added that “until the issue of withdrawal of foreign forces from Afghanistan is agreed upon, progress in other issues is impossible.”
Many of Trump’s military advisers and congressional allies have advised the President against drawing down troops in Afghanistan. Members of the defense establishment were strongly critical of his decision to get out of Syria.