US President Joe Biden has assured the Afghan leadership of “sustained” partnership as the US troops wind down their almost 20-year-long military engagement in the war-torn country amid an escalating Taliban offensive
US President Joe Biden has assured the Afghan leadership of “sustained” partnership as the US troops wind down their almost 20-year-long military engagement in the war-torn country amid an escalating Taliban offensive.
“Afghans are going to have to decide their future,” Biden said in brief remarks at the start of his meeting with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and chief peace negotiator Abdullah Abdullah. He, however, didn’t elaborate on the details of the “sustained” partnership.
“The partnership between Afghanistan and the United States is not ending. It’s — it’s going to be sustained,” Biden said during a short press meeting. “Our troops may be leaving, but support for Afghanistan is not ending, in terms of support and maintenance of their — helping maintain their military, as well as economic and political support,” he said.
During his first visit to the US, Ghani, along with Abdullah Abdullah, met several senior officials of the Biden administration, both senior Democrat and Republican leaders.
US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has said that they would continue to provide critical military assistance to the Afghan government.
"We expressed our appreciation for US sacrifices and generous assistance over the years, discussed key issues, and stressed on a negotiated political settlement to end the war, enhance stability and allow the Afghan people to determine their own future," Abdullah Abdullah was quoted as saying by TOLOnews.
During the meeting, leaders of the two countries also stressed maintaining political unity in support of peace of stability in the country. Biden expressed the US commitment to continue to support the Intra-Afghan talks.
Biden emphasized enduring United States support for the Afghan people, including Afghan women, girls, and minorities, through civilian, development, and humanitarian aid, as well as the continued provision of security assistance to support Afghan National Defense and Security Forces. But it was clear from the talks that the US troops were not going to stay back in Afghanistan beyond their Sept 11 deadline, despite the worsening security situation.
The visit came at a time when embattled Afghan security forces struggle to hold on to territory in the country’s north. In a lightning offensive, the Taliban, in the last few weeks, swept across more than 50 districts.
The morale of the Afghan forces is at its all-time low level, with reports emerging of several hundreds of Afghan soldiers surrendering without putting in a fight. In many cases, the Taliban has reportedly negotiated their surrender with the help of tribal elders.