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Saturday, 10 April 2021

U.S. Defense Secretary meets Afghan president

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U.S. Defense Secretary meets Afghan president
U.S. Defense Secretary meets Afghan president

United States Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin met Afghan President Ashraf Ghani in an unnanounced visit to Kabul on Sunday, as Washington reviews the peace process there and its planned troop withdrawal.

This report produced by Yahaira Jacquez.

United States Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin met Afghan President Ashraf Ghani in an unnanounced visit to Kabul on Sunday.

According to a statement from the Afghan presidential palace, Austin and Ghani discussed the peace process and concerns over rising violence.

The visit comes at a crucial time, as U.S. President Joe Biden's administration reviews its plan for Afghanistan ahead of a May 1 deadline for the withdrawal of U.S. troops.

The deadline was set under an agreement reached by former President Donald Trump and the Taliban.

But just this week, Biden told ABC News in an interview that the deadline would be tough to meet and that his administration was consulting with allies.

Negotiations between the Taliban and the Afghan government in Qatar’s capital Doha have struggled to gain momentum and violence has risen.

The Taliban said on Friday they would like to see the process sped up but warned Washington against keeping troops in Afghanistan beyond their agreed withdrawal date.

Austin said on Twitter he had visited the country to “listen and learn" and and that the visit has been "very helpful."

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