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Afghan, US presidents set to meet this Friday amid surge in Taliban violence

By: The Kabul Times

KABUL: US President Joe Biden will meet President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani and Abdullah Abdullah, chairman of the High Council for National Reconciliation on June 25, the White House said on Sunday, amid a surge in Taliban violence ahead of a planned full withdrawal of international troops.

Afghan forces and the Taliban have clashed repeatedly across the country as American and other foreign soldiers get set to fully leave by September 11 this year. The pullout began in earnest last month.

Afghan and US presidents’ meeting this Friday will be their first face-to-face meeting since the former senator took up the presidency in January. The US leader is set to pledge diplomatic, economic and humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan to prevent it from becoming a haven for militants.

“The United States is committed to supporting the Afghan people by providing diplomatic, economic, and humanitarian assistance to support the Afghan people, including Afghan women, girls and minorities,” the statement said.

It added that the United States will remain “deeply engaged” with the government of Afghanistan to ensure the country never again becomes a “safe haven for terrorist groups who pose a threat to the US homeland.”

The White House said that the US continues to “fully support the ongoing peace process and encourages all Afghan parties to participate meaningfully in negotiations to bring an end to the conflict.”

But since the announcement that the United States planned to end its presence there after nearly 20 years of war, the Taliban have increased their violence and could take control of some districts in different provinces.

Peace negotiations between the government and the Taliban in Qatar remain deadlocked. They began last September, but meetings in Doha over the past two and a half of weeks have delivered little progress.

The Taliban said on Sunday they were committed to peace talks, but insisted they wanted a “genuine Islamic system” in Afghanistan that would take what they see as a traditional line on issues such as women’s rights.

International negotiators are concerned that the militant group has not submitted any written proposals, with Tomas Niklasson, the EU’s acting special envoy for Afghanistan, warning last week that time was running out.

In May, US intelligence analysts said that the Taliban “would roll back much” of the progress made in Afghanistan on women’s rights if the group regained national power. Prior to their ousting in 2001 by the US-led coalition, they imposed a hardline form of Islamic rule that banned girls from attending school.

 

 

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