Washington, Jun 25 (EFE).- US President Joe Biden on Friday promised Afghan counterpart Ashraf Ghani that their countries’ partnership will endure after American and international troops are fully withdrawn from the conflict-torn Asian nation.
Biden received Ghani and the chairman of Afghanistan’s High Council for National Reconciliation, Abdullah Abdullah, at the White House at a time when the United States’ remaining troops are exiting the country and the Taliban insurgency has been gaining ground against Afghan forces.
The withdrawal is to be complete by Sept. 11, the 20th anniversary of the terrorist attacks on New York and Washington that spurred the invasion, but the US president pledged continued assistance.
“The partnership between Afghanistan and the United States is not ending,” Biden told reporters at the start of their meeting in the Oval Office. “It is going to be sustained, and you know, our troops are going to be leaving, but our support for Afghanistan is not ending.”
Referring to the threat from the Taliban offensive, he added that “the Afghans are gonna have to decide their future, what they want. And it won’t be for a lack of us being help.”
“The senseless violence has to stop, but it’s going to be very difficult,” the president said.
Nearly 60 of Afghanistan’s 370 districts have fallen to the Taliban since May, marking the first time in two decades of war that the insurgents have taken control of so many districts in such a short period of time.
In statements to reporters, Ghani said Biden’s decision to completely withdraw American troops was “historic” and “we are here to respect it and support it.”
He added, however, that Afghan government forces should not be counted out so soon and expressed optimism that they can eventually emerge victorious over the Taliban.
“We’re determined to have unity, coherence, a national sense of sacrifice and will not spare anything,” Ghani said. “You will see that with determination, with unity and with the partnership, we will overcome all odds.”
The number of US military personnel in Afghanistan peaked at 100,000 during the period 2010-2012 under then-President Barack Obama, who Biden served as vice president.
By the time Obama left office in January 2017, the troop level was below 9,000; that number stood at around 2,500 on April 14, when Biden officially declared that US forces would be entirely withdrawn by Sept. 11. EFE