U.S. State Department declines to say if Ghani still Afghan president

U.S. State Department declines to say if Ghani still Afghan president By Qatar Day - August 17, 2021

Afghanistan's President Ashraf Ghani speaks during a news conference in Kabul, Afghanistan December 7, 2015. Ghani confirmed on Monday that he would travel to Pakistan for a regional conference on Afghanistan, in a sign of fresh efforts to reduce tension between the two neighbouring countries. REUTERS/Stringer

REUTERS

The U.S. State Department on Monday declined to say if the United States still recognized Ashraf Ghani as the president of Afghanistan after he left the country on Sunday as insurgent Taliban fighters toppled his government in a matter of weeks.

"So this is something that we are working on with the international community," State Department spokesman Ned Price responded when asked who Washington recognized as the leader of Afghanistan.

In a briefing, Price also declined to say whether U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who had a phone call with Ghani on Saturday, knew at the time where the president was or was informed by Ghani of his departure.

"The political situation was evolving very quickly. We'll leave it to President Ghani to characterize what he may have told the secretary," Price said.

"There has not been a formal transfer of power," he added.

Al Jazeera reported that Ghani had flown to Uzbekistan. Reuters was unable to verify this report.

First elected president in 2014, Ghani took over from Hamid Karzai, who led Afghanistan after the U.S.-led invasion in 2001. Ghani oversaw the conclusion of the U.S. combat mission, the near-complete withdrawal of foreign forces from the country, and a fractious peace process with the insurgent Taliban.

An increasingly isolated figure, he made ending decades of war a priority, despite continuing attacks on his government and security forces by the Taliban. Ghani began peace talks with the insurgents in the Qatari capital, Doha, in 2020.

Reporting by Jonathan Landay, Simon Lewis, and Daphne Psaledakis Writing by Humeyra Pamuk Editing by Sonya Hepinstall and Cynthia Osterman

By Qatar Day - August 17, 2021

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