Joe Biden to host Afghan President Ashraf Ghani at White House

Meeting to highlight ‘enduring partnership’ comes as the US winds down its military presence in Afghanistan

President Joe Biden walks to board Marine One on the Ellipse near the White House grounds, Friday, June 18, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

US President Joe Biden will host Afghanistan’s President Ashraf Ghani and the chairman of the High Council for National Reconciliation, Abdullah Abdullah, at the White House this week.

The meeting on Friday “will highlight the enduring partnership between the United States and Afghanistan as the military drawdown continues”, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said in a statement issued on Sunday.

“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.”

In April, Mr Biden said the US would end its two-decade military mission in Afghanistan and withdraw all troops by September 11.

On Thursday, Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin told Congress more than half of the withdrawal was complete.

Mr Austin also assessed there to be a "medium" chance that terrorist groups such as Al Qaeda and ISIS could regroup in Afghanistan and pose a threat to the US within two years of its withdrawal.

“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,” Ms Psaki said.

“The United States 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.”

The Biden administration has said it is committed to continuing security, economic and development aid to Afghan forces, but several senators have threatened to impose conditions on that assistance should the Taliban clamp down on human rights, as part of any future Afghan government.