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Afghan president: 'Critically important' for US, NATO to fulfill security funding commitments

Afghan president: 'Critically important' for US, NATO to fulfill security funding commitments
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Afghan President Ashraf Ghani says he is prioritizing peace in his country as the U.S. begins its withdrawal of troops, but says it is "critically important" that American and NATO commitments to fund security forces be met.

In a piece penned by Ghani and published by Foreign Affairs magazine on Tuesday, the Afghan president called President BidenJoe BidenBiden to meet with 6 GOP senators next week Arizona secretary of state gets security detail over death threats surrounding election audit On The Money: Five takeaways on a surprisingly poor jobs report | GOP targets jobless aid after lackluster April gain MORE's move to withdraw U.S. forces from the country after nearly 20 years "a turning point."

"President Joe Biden’s decision to withdraw the remaining 2,500 U.S. troops from Afghanistan by September represents a turning point for the country and our neighbors," Ghani writes. "The Afghan government respects the decision and views it as a moment of both opportunity and risk for itself, for Afghans, for the Taliban, and for the region."

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However, he also says that the U.S. and NATO funding of security forces in the nation could be the "single most important contribution" that can be made internationally to help with peace in the country.

"Moreover, it is critically important that the United States and NATO fulfill their existing commitments to fund the [Afghan National Defense and Security Forces] ANDSF," Ghani said. "This is perhaps the single most important contribution that the international community can make to a successful transition to peace in Afghanistan."

In his piece, Ghani also discussed the efforts he has made to achieve peace with the Taliban, saying his government "remains ready" to continue talks with the military organization.

The withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan has led some experts to worry that it could create a vacuum and embolden the Taliban to try to seize power. 

Ghani praised his country's security forces and said that the ANDSF is prepared to defend the country and has already allowed for two national elections.

Ghani wrote, "Today, our government and our security forces are on a much stronger footing than we were seven years ago, and we are fully prepared to continue serving and defending our people after American troops depart."

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Biden announced in April that he planned on withdrawing the remaining U.S. troops in Afghanistan by Sept. 11 of this year, saying in his announcement that the threat to the U.S. in Afghanistan was now manageable without a constant military presence.

The United States has had a military presence in the country since shortly after the Sept. 11 attacks in 2001.

Ghani said that Biden's decision to withdraw U.S. troops "surprised" the Taliban and Pakistan, forcing them to make a choice.

"Will they become credible stakeholders, or will they foster more chaos and violence? If the Taliban choose the latter path, the ANDSF will fight them. And if the Taliban still refuse to negotiate, they will be choosing the peace of the grave," Ghani warned.

According to Ghani, the largest risk to peace in the nation is a "Taliban miscalculation."

"The Taliban still believe their own narrative that they have defeated NATO and the United States," he opined. "They feel emboldened, and because their political leaders have never encouraged their military branch to accept the idea of peace, the greatest risk is that the Taliban will continue to show no earnest interest in making a political deal and will instead opt for continued military aggression."