U.S. President Joe Biden will meet at the White House on Friday with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and Afghan High Council President for National Reconciliation Abdullah Abdullah to discuss the withdrawal of northern troops -americana amid escalating fighting between Afghan and Taliban forces across the country.
At their first face-to-face meeting, Biden will try to reassure Ghani and Abdullah about U.S. support for the Afghan people, including diplomatic, economic and humanitarian assistance, the White House said in a statement Sunday. Biden will also reiterate his promise to ensure the country never becomes a safe haven for armed groups.
“The visit of President Ghani and Dr. Abdullah will highlight the lasting partnership between the United States and Afghanistan as the military withdrawal continues,” the White House said.
Since Biden’s decision in April to abandon all U.S. troops before 9/11 to end America’s longest war after nearly 20 years of conflict, the Taliban have fought daily battles. with government forces and claim to have captured 40 districts.
The group has organized a campaign to expand its influence across the country when the U.S. began withdrawing troops on May 1 and closed some bases and handed them over to the Afghan government.
The Taliban said the visit would be “useless.”
“They (Ghani and Abdullah) will talk to US officials to preserve their power and self-interest,” Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said. “It will not benefit Afghanistan.”
There was no immediate reaction from the Ghani office, but a senior Afghan official said the Afghan president would ask for assurances from the United States about his continued support for Afghan security forces after the withdrawal.
The visit would also come in the face of slow progress in talks between Taliban and Afghan government officials in Qatar.
Officials have expressed concern over the stalling of negotiations and said the Taliban has not yet submitted a written peace proposal that can be used as a starting point for substantive talks.
In May, U.S. intelligence analysts released an assessment that the Taliban would “back down a lot” from progress in Afghan women’s rights if the group regained national power.
The Taliban said on Sunday they would remain committed to peace talks, but insisted that a “genuine Islamic system” in Afghanistan was the only way to end the war and guarantee rights, including for women.
“A genuine Islamic system is the best means of resolving all Afghan issues,” said Taliban co-founder and deputy director Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar.
US to expedite visas
Afghans who worked for the United States during the deployment of two decades of U.S.-led NATO troops fear that armed groups will direct them and their families as retribution to help foreign forces.
The Biden administration says it is adding staff to expedite the visa process for Afghans. Advocates for refugees and some members of Congress, however, say the effort does not live up to their expectations.
In an interview with ABC News on Sunday, U.S. National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said the issue was a “top priority” for Biden and that the administration was getting people out “at a record pace.” , although he did not give any specific figure.
“And we’re doing the kind of extensive planning for a possible evacuation if necessary. We’ll take all these steps to make sure we do it right for the people who have done well for us,” he said.
Asked whether the escalation of violence in the country was forcing the administration to delay the U.S. departure from Bagram Air Base, the largest U.S. military base in Afghanistan, Sullivan said there is no there have been changes to the plans so far, but he added:
“What we’re doing is looking every week to check as the retreat unfolds, whether or not it fits into our effort to ensure there is a sufficient security presence at the embassy, that the airport is safe.” .
Last week, the United States celebrated Turkey’s commitment to secure Kabul airport, addressing one of the main areas of concern.
Turkey, as a Muslim-majority nation but also a member of NATO, the transatlantic alliance, has played a key role in Afghanistan since 2001, including sending troops with non-combat functions and, more recently, , welcome Taliban and government officials for talks. about the future of the country.
Kabul Airport, developed after 2001 with the support of the United States and Japan, is considered crucial to Afghanistan’s future by providing an economic lifeline.