Obama and Ghani to meet next month



WASHINGTON: Presi­dent Barack Obama will receive his Afghan counterpart Ashraf Ghani at the White House on March 24 as Washington weighs slowing down the withdrawal of US forces from the country.

The two presidents will discuss security issues, economic development and US support for a reconciliation process, White House secretary Josh Earnest said on Friday.

It will be the two leaders’ first White House meeting since Afghanistan’s presidential elections last year.

Know more: US hints at slowing Afghan pullout

Afghanistan’s chief executive Abdullah Abdullah — who took the newly-created role to end an election crisis with Mr Ghani — and the principal members of the unity government also will be at the White House talks.

During his March 22-25 visit, Mr Ghani and his delegation will also meet US Secretary of State John Kerry at Camp David.

US Defence Secretary Ashton Carter raised the possibility in Kabul last week of slowing the withdrawal of US troops in order to not put at risk the progress made in pacifying the country.

Currently, there are about 10,000 US troops in Afghanistan, but that number is supposed to drop to around 5,000 by the end of the year, and the force is to be withdrawn completely by the end of 2016 when Mr Obama leaves office.


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