- Title: U.S. officials meet Afghan leaders as troops pullout, fighting rages
- Date: 25th June 2021
- Summary: WASHINGTON, D.C., UNITED STATES (JUNE 25, 2021) (UNRESTRICTED POOL) ***WARNING: CONTAINS FLASH PHOTOGRAPHY*** U.S. SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE NANCY PELOSI GREETING AFGHAN PRESIDENT ASHRAF GHANI AND WALKING TO THE MICROPHONES (WHITE FLASH) (SOUNDBITE) (English) U.S. SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE, NANCY PELOSI, SAYING: "As you know, we have had a relationship between our two countries, an intense relationship for the past 20 years. As we enter a new phase of that relationship, we look forward to hearing from you about how we can do so with humanitarian assistance. As you know, in our country, there is great interest in the future of women and girls in Afghanistan -- I think that progress was made." WHITE FLASH (SOUNDBITE) (English) U.S. SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE, NANCY PELOSI, SAYING: "We look forward to having a conversation about how we strengthen our relationship through humanitarian assistance; our friendship is one that is deep and personal and one that we value." WHITE FLASH (SOUNDBITE) (English) AFGHAN PRESIDENT, ASHRAF GHANI, SAYING: "It is a great pleasure to be here. First of all, the decision of President Biden has been a strategic decision; we respect that decision. It's dealing with a new chapter of our friendship, our strategic relationship, and our people-to-people relationship, and government to government relationship that we are focused on. Our discussions have been productive and we very much look forward to the culminating decision in meeting with the president today. I would like to thank you personally for your multiple visits. For your deep interest in Afghanistan. For your leadership, and particularly the issue that has been very dear to my heart, the empowerment of Afghan women." WHITE FLASH (SOUNDBITE) (English) AFGHAN PRESIDENT, ASHRAF GHANI, SAYING: "What moves me in my daily work is meeting with young girls from schools. And when I ask them how many of you want to become president -- eighty, ninety percent of the hands go up. That's the new Afghanistan. And we face a transition that 21 years of engagement of international security forces is being now dealt with in a systematic manner. I am looking very much forward to the discussion of detail and your assistance today in the humanitarian area for the people of Afghanistan who are facing the challenges of COVID-19, the third wave, a drought, and displacement because of the brutal attacks of the Taliban will be essential. Thank you again, Madam Speaker, and thank you for your friendship and your commitment to the empowerment and further improvement of the lives of women and girls in Afghanistan and all the Afghan people." GHANI AND PELOSI LEAVE THE PODIUM
- Embargoed: 9th July 2021 18:01
- Keywords: Austin Austin Afghan President Ashraf Ghani Biden Pelosi Taliban girls withdrawal women
- Location: ALRLINGTON, VIRGINIA; WASHINGTON, D.C., UNITED STATES
- City: ALRLINGTON, VIRGINIA; WASHINGTON, D.C., UNITED STATES
- Country: USA
- Topics: Diplomacy/Foreign Policy,Government/Politics,United States
- Reuters ID: LVA002EIWHZYF
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and his former political foe, Abdullah Abdullah, on Friday (June 25) sat down with Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin to discuss Washington's support for Afghanistan as the last U.S. troops pack up after 20 years of war and government forces struggle to repel Taliban advances.
"American and Afghan soldiers have fought side by side in common purpose," Austin said. "I am confident that as Resolute Support begins to wind down, we will make the transition to a new relationship with Afghanistan and the Afghan forces."
Later both leaders will meet with U.S. President Joe Biden.
Biden's first meeting as president with Ghani and Abdullah, chairman of the High Council for National Reconciliation, will focus on "our ongoing commitment to the Afghan people" and security forces, said White House deputy press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre.
Biden has asked Congress to approve $3.3 billion in security assistance for Afghanistan next year and is sending 3 million doses of vaccines there to help it battle COVID-19.
U.S. officials, however, have been clear that Biden will not halt the U.S. pullout - likely to be completed by late July or early August - and he is unlikely to approve any U.S. military support to Kabul to halt the Taliban's advances beyond advice, intelligence, and aircraft maintenance.
The visit comes with the peace process stalled and violence raging as Afghan security forces fight to stem a Taliban spring offensive that threatens several provincial capitals and has triggered mobilizations of ethnic militias to reinforce government troops.
The crisis has fueled grave concerns that the Taliban could regain power - two decades after the U.S.-led invasion ended their harsh version of Islamist rule - allowing a resurgence of al Qaeda. U.S. and U.N. officials say the extremists maintain close links with the Taliban.
Biden, who pledged to end America's "forever wars," announced in April that all U.S. forces would be out of Afghanistan by the anniversary of Sept. 11, 2001, attacks by al Qaeda on the United States.
He made the decision even though a 2020 U.S.-Taliban deal forged under former President Donald Trump set May 1 as the U.S. pullout deadline.
(Production: Deborah Lutterbeck)
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