Biden to meet with Afghan President Ghani as violence surges

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani. — Reuters file
Afghan President Ashraf Ghani. — Reuters file

Washington - The Afghan president would be seeking assurances from the US over its continued support for Afghan security forces

By Reuters

Published: Sun 20 Jun 2021, 8:37 PM

Last updated: Sun 20 Jun 2021, 9:08 PM

US President Joe Biden will meet at the White House with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and chairman of Afghanistan’s High Council for National Reconciliation Abdullah Abdullah on Friday to discuss US troop withdrawal amid a surge in fighting between Afghan forces and the Taleban across the country.

In their first face-to-face meeting, Biden will seek to reassure Ghani and Abdullah of US support for the Afghan people including diplomatic, economic and humanitarian assistance, the White House said in a statement. Biden will also repeat his pledge to ensure that the country never becomes a safe haven for terrorist groups.

“The visit by President Ghani and Dr Abdullah will highlight the enduring partnership between the United States and Afghanistan as the military drawdown continues,” the White House said.

However, since Biden’s decision in April to pull out all US troops before September 11 to end America’s longest war after nearly 20 years of conflict, at least 30 districts have been seized by the Taleban.

The group has staged a campaign to expand its influence across the country as the United States began withdrawing troops on May 1 and closed some bases and handed them over to the Afghan government.

The Taleban was not immediately available for comment and there was no immediate reaction from Ghani’s office.

But a senior Afghan official said the Afghan president would be seeking assurances from the United States over its continued support for Afghan security forces in the aftermath of the withdrawal.

The visit would also come in the face of slow progress in talks between the Taleban and Afghan government representatives in Qatar. Officials have raised concerns over the stalling negotiations and have said the Taleban has not yet submitted a written peace proposal that could be used as a starting point for substantive talks.

In May, US intelligence analysts released an assessment that the Taleban “would roll back much” of the progress made in Afghan women’s rights if the extremists regained national power.

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