Secretary of State Antony Blinken landed in Afghanistan on Thursday for a surprise visit less than 24 hours after President Joe Biden announced the full withdrawal of U.S. forces from the country by Sept. 11 of this year.
While in Kabul, Blinken met with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and Abdullah Abdullah, chairman of the country’s High Council for National Reconciliation, as well as members of Afghan civil society.
“I wanted to demonstrate with my visit the ongoing commitment of the United States to the Islamic Republic and the people of Afghanistan,” Blinken said as he met Ghani at the presidential palace in Kabul.
“The partnership is changing, but the partnership is enduring.”
The secretary of state also met with American soldiers at the U.S. embassy. “What you and your predecessors did over the last 20 years is really extraordinary,” he told them.
“I’m in constant awe of what you’ve achieved,” he added.
Ghani said Thursday that he respects the U.S. decision to withdraw.
“Afghanistan’s proud security and defense forces are fully capable of defending its people and country, which they have been doing all along,” he said on Twitter, following a conversation with Biden on Wednesday.
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Other prominent Afghan government officials were not so optimistic.
Mir Rahman Rahmani, speaker of the Afghan Parliament, said Wednesday that while the country’s people want to see foreign forces leave, “the conditions are not met for that to happen yet.”
“It is possible that Afghanistan turns into another civil war or becomes a haven for international terrorist organizations,” Speaker Rahmani warned in a speech on the parliamen