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Ghani, Abdullah arrive in US with heavy agenda

Ghani, Abdullah arrive in US with heavy agenda

Mar 22, 2015 - 19:26

WASHINGTON (Pajhwok): On their landmark visit to the US, President Ashraf Ghani and CEO Dr Abdullah Abdullah arrived at the Andrews Air Force Base on Sunday morning.

The Obama administration, which is yet to decide on the pace of troop withdrawal, hopes the trip will set the pace and tone for strong bilateral ties between the two countries.

“We are visiting the US to deepen cooperation between our countries. With US support, the hardworking people of Afghanistaninfo-icon can rebuild our country, develop our economy and resist terrorism,” Ghani and Dr Abdullah wrote in an op-ed in The Washington Post.

Their first engagement is Sunday evening when Secretary of State John Kerry will host an informal dinner for them, setting the agenda for next days and priorities of the two countries during the Ghani-Obama summit at the White House on Tuesday.

Dan Feldman, US special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistaninfo-icon, said the visiting leaders would hold strategic talks with Kerry and other officials at Camp David on Monday.

Ghani and Abdullah would kick off their official engagements on Monday with a visit to the Pentagon to thank the US troops for the sacrifices they made for the people of Afghanistan. They will be accorded a ceremonial guard of honour by Defence Secretary Ashton Carter.

From Pentagon, Ghani will go to Camp David for official talks with Kerry and the entire US national security team, including Carter and Secretary of Treasury Lew.

This would be followed by a working lunch of an hour and a half, chaired by Kerry, on regional engagement, including reconciliation-related issues. Another 90-minute session on Afghanistan’s economic transition will be chaired by Lew.

After that, there will be a press conference at Camp David, a return to Washington and then the Afghans have an event for Monday’s evening on economic issues.           

On Tuesday Ghani and Abdullah will have a breakfast meeting with Vice President Joe Biden before visiting Arlington Cemetery and heading to the White House for a summit with Obama.

They will be at the White House for four to five hours.  “We'll open up with a set of bilateral meetings to go through and recap the agenda from Camp David, but also to discuss the bilateral relationship more generally and strategically,” said Jeff Eggers, National Security Council senior director.

Obama will host a working lunch for the visiting delegation, followed by a press conference. In the evening Kerry will host a formal dinner for the president and his CEO.

A gathering of Afghan-American Diaspora, civil societyinfo-icon leaders, media representatives, NGOs and a range of key stakeholders will be in attendance.

Wednesday will see congressional engagement, including President Ghani’s address to the joint session and meetings with a number of key Hill committees. He will also interact with the Afghan Womeninfo-icon’s Caucus to highlight his commitment to strengthening the role of women and girls.

Ghani has squeezed in some time for addressing the Washington’s think-tank community on Wednesday evening.  On Thursday morning, they will head to New York for meetings with the UN secretary general.

Ghani is also scheduled also attend think tank events and public engagements, as well as some editorial board meetings, in New York.


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