Kabul, Jun 24 (EFE).- The president of Afghanistan left overnight for Washington for a two-day official visit to discuss issues of mutual interest, mainly the United States’ support to the Afghan security forces, according to official sources Thursday.
Ashraf Ghani’s visit comes ahead of the pullout of NATO troops, led by the US, in September, coinciding with the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks that led to the invasion of Afghanistan and the overthrowing of the Taliban regime.
“The President during this visit will have separate meetings with US President Joe Biden, members of US congress and Senate, high level US government officials and some influential figures,” the Presidential palace said in a statement.
Ghani is expected to discuss a “new chapter of relations” between the two countries after the US withdrawal, including strengthening of diplomatic ties, American support for the Afghan security forces, economic development and the fight against terrorism.
The president is accompanied by the Chairman of the High Council for National Reconciliation, Abdullah Abdullah, First Vice President Amrullah Saleh, Foreign Minister Haneef Atmar, National Security Advisor Hamdullah Muhib and Afghanistan’s Independent Human Rights Commission Chairperson Shahrzad Akbar, among others.
The Afghan government hopes this visit, which comes at a “very important” time, will be “successful and fruitful,” the statement said.
Violence has escalated in Afghanistan in recent weeks, especially after the start of the final phase of the withdrawal of foreign troops, as the Taliban seek to regain control of the country.
The final phase of the withdrawal started on May 1 and the US and NATO troops are scheduled to pullout all its 9,500 soldiers – 2,500 US and some 7,000 NATO forces – from Afghanistan by September.
This has negatively impacted the morale of the Afghan security forces, who often relied on US airstrikes to push back Taliban attacks in recent years.
Over the last six weeks, nearly 60 district centers, mostly in northern Afghanistan, have been fallen to the Taliban, the highest during the two decades of war in the country. EFE