By: The Kabul Times
KABUL: President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani has arrived in the United States ahead of a meeting with President Joe Biden at the White House on Friday. A plane carrying the Afghan leader and his chief peacemaker, Abdullah Abdullah, landed early Thursday outside Washington. The first face-to-face interaction between Biden and Afghan officials comes ahead of the withdrawal of the remaining U.S. and NATO forces from Afghanistan by September 11 in line with Biden’s direction to close what he has described as the “forever war.”US Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell on Thursday met with President Ashraf Ghani, Abdullah Abdullah the chairman of the High Council for National Reconciliation and other Afghan officials who accompany the president in his two-day visit to the United States.In meeting with President Ghani at the Capitol, McConnell said he hopes President Biden will delay the withdrawal of US forces from Afghanistan.“President Biden’s decision to withdraw US forces leaves our Afghan partners alone to confront threats that his own top advisors acknowledge are grave and growing worse,” McConnel said, according to a statement released by his office.“The Taliban, emboldened by our retreat, is rolling back years of progress, especially for the rights of Afghan women, on its way to taking Kabul,” he said, adding that “increasing indications that this collapse could come soon after US withdrawal is complete are as tragic as they are avoidable.”He said that in the Taliban’s wake, al-Qaeda is already preparing for an ambitious resurgence of its own, which the President’s own Defense Secretary warns could lead to direct threats to the US homeland in as little as two years.“Without a reversal of US policy, I suspect this threat will come much more quickly,” he said. “President Ghani and the people of Afghanistan are entitled to wonder why the Biden Administration has chosen to abandon the fight and invite even greater terrorist threats,” McConnell said. “They are right to expect answers about how the United States will honor its commitments to brave Afghans who have helped US forces, and how we will assist in mitigating the security and humanitarian fallout of a Taliban takeover.McConnell said that he hopes the Biden Administration will delay the withdrawal, address these concerns, and reconsider its misguided retreat. “As President Ghani and the Afghan people know, the threats we face from terrorism and tyranny have not been defeated,” he concluded.The Afghan delegation also met with US Senator Jim Risch, ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.“I have deep reservations about the decision to withdraw all American forces from Afghanistan by September 11 without a plan to ensure critical counterterrorism operations can still take place – there are options in-between departing Afghanistan entirely or remaining there forever. I am concerned this decision severely hampers any chances of a negotiated peace, and puts our hard-fought counterterrorism gains at risk,” Risch said. He said that their discussion was useful but said that “it’s unfortunate that we must discuss how to avoid a worse outcome in Afghanistan.”During his two-day official visit, the president also met with ‘Friends of Afghanistan Group’ at the Afghan Embassy in Washington DC. The meeting was attended by key former and incumbent US officials, diplomats and politicians, including Gen. Petraeus, Nicholson, Campbell and other dignitaries.The meeting discussed bilateral relations and other related issues, a statement from the presidential palace added.