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Ghani thanks US troops for sacrifices in Afghanistan

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AT Monitoring Desk-KABUL: President Ashraf Ghani in his first visit to Washington DC thanked the US troops for their service in the country and said they have helped to train a country that can defend itself against terrorism.

“So what’s the legacy? The legacy is now a proud Afghan security forces that has dealt with the best of you and emulates the best of your example,” Ghani told a gathering of members at the Pentagon. “The special forces who worked shoulder to shoulder with you are now carrying the mission,” he added.

According to the Washington Times, the president also emphasized changes the country has made that allow young Afghan girls more freedom to get an education. He directed the remarks specifically to someone in the audience — Reese Larson, a 9-year-old girl whose father is currently deployed in Afghanistan.

“Reese, I have greetings to you from 3 million Afghan girls who are attending school today. Fourteen years ago, there were exactly none. Each one of them wants to entertain the hopes you do, and your dad is making this possible,” he said. “Remember, he is there to make a difference.”

Some Republicans have warned that not leaving behind a residual US presence in Afghanistan could lead to the country’s hard-won security falling back into chaos similar to what happened in Iraq.

Defense Secretary Ashton B. Carter said that while the US and other international partners will continue to help in the fight, Mr. Ghani has made it clear that “Afghanistan’s future is ultimately for Afghans to grab hold of and for Afghans to decide.”

During his first visit to Washington since being elected president, Mr. Ghani is expected to make the case for more flexibility in the planned drawdown of U.S. troops in Afghanistan at the end of this year. There are currently about 10,000 American service members in Afghanistan, though the White House has said it will reduce that to about 5,500 by December.

President Ghani and Abdullah Abdullah the CEO of the National Unity Government arrived in Washington on Sunday. More than 850,000 Americans have served in Afghanistan since 2001. Many have returned home injured and more than 2,000 were killed in action.