Friday, October 15, 2021

US, Afghan officials to meet at White House on Friday

US President Joe Biden will meet Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and Chief Peacekeeper Abdullah Abdullah at the White House on Friday.

The first face-to-face talks between Biden and Afghan officials preceded the withdrawal of the remaining US and NATO forces from Afghanistan by September 11, in line with Biden’s directive in what he described as a “forever war.”

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said earlier this week that Biden “looks forward to welcoming” Afghan leaders and would reassure them of US diplomatic, economic and humanitarian support for the troubled country as the decline continues.

Ghani and Abdullah arrived in Washington on Thursday and met with Senate leaders Chuck Schumer and Mitch McConnell.

“The visit of President Ghani and Dr. Abdullah will highlight the enduring partnership between the United States and Afghanistan as the military decline continues,” Saki said.

Ghani’s aides said they would raise the issue of future relations between the two countries and continued support for Afghan security forces.

The foreign military fallout that formally began on May 1 has sparked an unprecedented escalation in fighting between Afghan security forces and Taliban insurgents, dealing a fresh blow to slow-moving US-brokered peace talks between Afghan opponents.

Insurgents have seized dozens of new districts in recent weeks and are said to have suffered heavy losses on both sides, with Afghan civilians bearing the brunt of the country’s long war.

Late Thursday, US officials told The Associated Press that about 650 US troops are likely to remain in Afghanistan as a security detail for diplomats.

Officials also told the AP that several hundred additional US forces would likely remain at Kabul airport until September. Officials told the AP that the role of the troops would be to assist Turkish troops who are providing security there. According to the AP, officials said it would be a temporary move until a more formal security operation led by Turkey begins.

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Also on Thursday, Qatar said it had formally offered to the warring parties in Afghanistan to agree to third-party mediation to advance their stalled peace talks and by US-led foreign troops in the country. Reach the power-sharing arrangement before exiting the September 11 deadline.

Mutlaq bin Majid Al Qahtani, the special Qatari envoy for mediation in counter-terrorism and conflict resolution, said his government had last week shared a mediation proposal with representatives of the Afghan government and the Taliban insurgency. He made the remarks this week during an international seminar in Qatar’s capital, Doha.

The two Afghan adversaries have been holding peace talks in Doha with the host government since last September, playing, among others, the role of a facilitator. But the process has not made any significant progress, with each negotiating party blaming the other for the impasse.

“We don’t think convenience is enough.[Afghan negotiators]Formal mediation is needed,” Qahtani said earlier this week.

The organizer of the seminar, the independent Doha-based Center for Conflict and Humanitarian Studies, released a video of his speech on Thursday.

“The[two Afghan]The parties have not yet finalized their agreement regarding the arbitration. One side needs two arbitrators while the other side needs one mediator,” the Qatar envoy said without elaborating. “We expect the parties to come to us very soon regarding their final position. They are almost there.”

Ayaz Gul in Islamabad and the Associated Press contributed to this article.

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