US Defense chief, Afghan President discuss transition to new bilateral ties – Pentagon

Washington : US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, in a meeting at the Pentagon, discussed the transition to a new relationship between the two countries as American forces near a complete withdrawal from Afghanistan, the Pentagon said on Friday.

“President Ghani, Dr. Abdullah and Secretary Austin discussed the winding down of the Resolute Support Mission and with that the transition to a new relationship with Afghanistan and with the Afghan forces,” the Pentagon said in a press release.

The two sides reiterated the importance of ensuring Afghanistan does not become a safe haven for terrorists that threaten the United States and its allies, the release said.

Austin conveyed to Ghani that the United States is invested in preserving stability in Afghanistan and continuing US support to the Afghan security forces, the release said.

Earlier on Friday, Fox News reported that the US military executed two drone strikes against Taliban positions in northern Afghanistan hours after three more districts in the country fell to the Taliban. An unknown number of Taliban fighters were killed in the strikes in the provinces of Baghlan and Kunduz provinces, the report said.

Afghan national forces took back six other districts elsewhere in the country in the past 24 hours, according to local media.

The latest developments came as the United States nears a complete withdrawal of forces from Afghanistan in the coming weeks, well ahead of Biden’s September 11 deadline.