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Ahead of fighting season, Afghan leaders head to Washington

Ahead of fighting season, Afghan leaders head to Washington
Diplomatic efforts to bring the Taliban to the negotiating table have gained pace recently, even as security forces have launched offensives against the insurgent group without NATO assistance for the first time since 2002.

Ghani and Abdullah leave tomorrow for an official four-day trip to Washington, where the president will address a joint session of Congress. Both men will then visit Camp David and New York.

Besides the US, Ghani also visited Saudi Arabia this week, while Abdullah was in India to try to obtain a “regional consensus” on reconciliation with the Taliban, according to Afghan officials. The Afghan leaders will also be seeking renewed support from Washington over the issue, a source close to the government said.

“One of the factors which is motivating President Ghani to act now could be trying to make as much progress as possible before the fighting season begins, but it’s not the only factor,” said a Western diplomat.

The visit will also include an economic component, with planned discussions on the future of cooperation between the two countries.

A senior Afghan official who requested anonymity told AFP: “The meetings in the US will focus on another key point: the financial support to Afghanistan, which has been secured until 2017, but needs to be confirmed for the following five years.
Agencies

Agencies

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