Afghans will be able to ‘choose their own destiny’

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As the US troop departure nears its finish, Biden informs Ghani and Abdullah.

During a White House meeting on Friday, US President Joe Biden pledged strong support to Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, but made clear that the US exit after nearly two decades of fighting would not be slowed.

Biden warned Ghani that Afghans must decide their own fate less than three months before his timetable for the withdrawal of all troops, despite the Taliban’s growing offensive.

“Afghans will have to decide their future, what they want,” Biden told Afghan President Hamid Karzai.

“It’s time to put an end to the senseless violence. It’ll be quite difficult.”

Ghani was in Washington with Abdullah Abdullah, who is in charge of Kabul’s peace talks with the Taliban, amid growing concern over the Taliban’s recent gains and the possibility of a return to power.

When the radicals reigned from 1996 to 2001, they imposed a harsh form of Islam on the population.

Ghani, who was sitting next to Biden, insisted that no one should write off his government, despite projections that the Taliban could take over Kabul within six months of the US leaving.

On Friday, Afghan government forces retook six districts in the north and south, reversing recent Taliban gains, according to Ghani.

On his two-day visit to Washington, Ghani spoke with members of Congress, the CIA, and US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin.

Before it’s too late, Washington expects him to achieve a negotiated power-sharing agreement with the Taliban.

Next month, the US pullout could be nearly complete. Biden is anticipated to reconfirm billions of dollars in US aid to Afghanistan and make plans for US civilian contractors to remain in the country, which are critical to keeping the Afghan air force flying.

The government is also working on a plan to evacuate 18,000 Afghan interpreters and others who worked for US soldiers and are facing Taliban attacks.

Another major concern was how to ensure the safety of US diplomats in the nation. The embassy is likely to be protected by a heavy contingent of US Marines.

 

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