Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Biden calls on Afghans to ‘decide their future’ as evacuation nears

WASHINGTON: US President Joe Biden met with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and his former political foe Abdullah Abdullah at the White House on Friday, where he called on Afghans to decide the future of their country as the last American soldier after 20 years of war. Got packed. And government forces struggled to stop the Taliban from advancing.

Biden, who sat with Ghani and Abdullah in the Oval Office, called them “two old friends” and said US support for Afghanistan is not ending, but will continue despite the US withdrawal.

“The Afghans have to decide their future, what they want,” Biden said, “the senseless violence has to stop.”

Ghani said Afghan security forces recaptured six districts on Friday. He said he respected Biden’s decision and that the partnership between the United States and Afghanistan was entering a new phase.

“We are determined for unity, coherence,” he said.

Speaking to reporters after the meeting, Ghani said the United States’ decision to withdraw troops was a sovereign one and it was Kabul’s job to “manage the consequences”.

He said Biden had made it very clear that the US embassy would continue to operate and that security assistance would continue and in some cases move on an accelerated schedule.

Abdullah said in a Reuters interview after the Biden meeting that intra-Afghan talks on a political settlement for decades of conflict should not be abandoned until the rebels have pulled themselves out.

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Afghan President Ashraf Ghani meets with US President Joe Biden in Washington on June 25, 2021. (Nicholas Come/AFP via Getty Images)

“I think we should not close the door until it is completely closed by the Taliban,” Abdullah said. “We cannot ask for talks despite the lack of progress or what is happening on the ground.”

The Oval Office meeting could be as valuable for Ghani for his symbolism as for any new American help as it is seen as reaffirming Biden’s support for the troubled Afghan leader facing Taliban gains, bombings and killings. will be seen as; increase in COVID-19 cases; and political infighting in Kabul.

Ronald Newman, former US ambassador to Kabul, said: “At a time when morale is incredibly volatile and things are going down, one can do anything to boost morale and help shore up the government.” “Inviting Ghani here is a very strong indication that we are supporting him.”

Biden’s embrace, however, comes months after US officials pressured Ghani for a transitional government under a draft political settlement that they swam in a failed gamble to break the impasse in peace talks.

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Biden has asked Congress to approve $3.3 billion in security aid for Afghanistan next year and is sending 3 million doses of the vaccine there to help it fight COVID-19.

US officials have made it clear that Biden will not halt the US pullout—likely to be completed in the coming weeks—and approve any US military support to Kabul to halt the Taliban’s progress beyond advice, intelligence and aircraft maintenance. is not likely.

Earlier, Afghan leaders met for the second day on Capitol Hill, where Biden’s decision to return faced objections from several members of both sides.

US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi welcomed Ghani to the bipartisan leadership meeting, saying she looked forward to hearing about what more could be done with US humanitarian aid, especially for women and girls.

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Many lawmakers and experts have expressed deep concern that the Taliban – if returned to power – would reverse progress made on the rights of women and girls, who were severely repressed and barred from education and work during the insurgents’ 1996-2001 regime I went.

Al Qaeda’s concern

The Ghani-Abdullah visit comes with the peace process stalling and violence erupts as Afghan security forces fight to stop a Taliban spring attack that threatens several provincial capitals and ethnic militias begin mobilizing to bolster government troops. It becomes

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Afghan soldiers join the Afghan army and security forces during a meeting in Kabul, Afghanistan on June 23, 2021. (Rahmat Gul/AP Photo)

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said during a visit to Paris on Friday that Washington is looking “very hard” on whether the Taliban are “serious about a peaceful solution to the conflict.”

The crisis has fueled serious concerns that the Taliban could seize power – two decades after the US-led invasion ended its harsher version of the Islamic regime – allowing a resurgence of al-Qaeda. US and UN officials say the extremists have close ties with the Taliban.

US officials respond that the United States will be able to detect and thwart any new threats by al-Qaeda or other Islamists. The Taliban says al-Qaeda is no longer in Afghanistan.

US government sources familiar with US intelligence reporting describe the situation as dire. He said Ghani has been urged to do more to increase pressure on the rebels, while US-led coalition forces are still there.

by Jonathan Lande, Steve Holland and Phil Stewart

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Biden calls on Afghans to 'decide their future' as evacuation nears
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