President Barack Obama is to meet
today with his Afghan counterpart Ashraf Ghani, who has asked Washington for “flexibility” on the pace of US troop withdrawal from the war-torn country after a presence of more than a decade. With the end of the US combat mission in 2014, Afghan forces have taken over responsibility for security across the conflict-scarred nation, still wracked by a militant insurgency.
With the spring fighting season looming, Ghani has asked for some “flexibility” as the US prepares to pull out the remaining 10,000 American troops by the end of 2016, drawing them down to about 5,500 by the end of this year Obama is “actively considering that request,” Secretary of State John Kerry told reporters yesterday, after a day of talks in the presidential woodland retreat of Camp David in Maryland.
The two countries turned the page on years of distrust yesterday, mapping out a new vision for future ties as Washington vowed to fund Afghan forces through 2017 to help shore up stability.
Hailing a day of “productive talks,” Kerry said the two countries shared “a commitment to security and peace and a desire to promote prosperity and social progress.”
Earlier, Ghani warmly thanked US troops for more than a decade of sacrifice since the 2001 overthrow of Taliban rule by a US-led invasion.
“We do not now ask what the United States can do for us. We want to say what Afghanistan will do for itself and for the world,” said Ghani, turning around a famous phrase of former US leader John F. Kennedy.
“And that means we are going to put our house in order,” he told soldiers and senior US officials at a Pentagon ceremony on his first official visit to Washington.
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