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Biden to meet with Ghani as more Afghan districts fall to the Taliban

US President Joe Biden is set to meet with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and the Chairman of the Afghan High Council for National Reconciliation, Abdullah Abdullah, on 25 June for talks at the White House amid an escalation of violence in Afghanistan as foreign troops leave the country.

White House spokesperson Jen Psaki said in a 20 June statement that the visit by Ghani and Abdullah will “highlight the enduring partnership between the United States and Afghanistan as the military drawdown continues”, adding that Washington will remain “deeply engaged with the government of Afghanistan to ensure the country never again becomes a safe haven for terrorist groups who pose a threat to the US homeland”.

The announcement comes amid reports that the Taliban are intensifying attacks across Afghanistan to gain more territory as the withdrawal of US and coalition troops progresses at a fast pace, with the US Central Command saying on 15 June that more than 50% of the US retrograde process has already been completed.

According to local media reports, the Taliban have taken over dozens of district centres since the beginning of the foreign troop pullout in late April/early May. On 20 June, TOLOnews reported that the centres of 11 districts – located in the provinces of Takhar, Samangan, Balkh, Nimruz, Jowzjan, and Logar – recently fell to the group within a 24-hour span.

Moreover, the media outlet also reported fighting in about 80 districts, adding that Sar-e-Pol, Takhar, and Faryab provinces in the north; Ghazni Province in the centre; and Farah Province in the west of the country have lost most of their territory to the Taliban over the past two months.

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