US President Joe Biden will meet Afghanistan’s President Ashraf Ghani and Abdullah Abdullah, chairman of the country’s High Council for National Reconciliation on Friday, the White House has announced, to signal “enduring partnership” between the two countries as the drawdown of American troops continues with the September 11 deadline.
As a crucial stakeholder and key player in Afghanistan’s reconstruction and reconciliation, India will be watching the meeting closely. New Delhi has been clear that while the US drawdown was inevitable, it doesn’t want to see the gains of the last 20 years squandered in the aftermath.
Those gains remain a priority for the Biden administration as well, as it has said and reiterated it once again in the Sunday announcement of the visit. “The visit by President Ghani and Dr Abdullah will highlight the enduring partnership between the US and Afghanistan as the military drawdown continues,” the White House said, adding, “The US is committed to supporting the Afghan people by providing diplomatic, economic, and humanitarian assistance to support the Afghan people, including women, girls and minorities.”
There have been concerns that US withdrawal could lead to the return of the Taliban and their repressive practices and support of al-Qaeda and other terrorist organisations, many of whom never left Afghanistan.
The Biden administration has said it plans to withdraw all American troops from Afghanistan before September 11, 2021, the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks that brought them to the country, along with international partners, in search of al-Qaeda.
The White House added: “We 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.”