Afghanistan is moving forward, with help from its friends

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and President Obama chat at the White House on March 24. (© AP Images)

“America’s combat mission in Afghanistan may be over, but our commitment to the Afghanistan people — that will endure,” President Obama said in welcoming Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and Afghan Chief Executive Officer Abdullah Abdullah to the White House.

Representing Afghanistan’s first national unity government, Ghani and Abdullah met with senior U.S. officials during their March 22–26 visit to Washington to reaffirm U.S.-Afghan relations. Obama praised Ghani and Abdullah for selfless leadership in Afghanistan’s time of transition.

“In the spirit of compromise and putting their interests behind the interests of the nation, President Ghani and Dr. Abdullah ensured the first peaceful and democratic transfer of power in Afghanistan’s history,” Obama said. “And together they now lead a national unity government that reflects the diversity, the strength and the determination of the Afghan people.”

Obama said political solutions for the Afghan people will help continue the reduction of U.S. and foreign troops.

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and Afghan Chief Executive Officer Abdullah Abdullah lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknowns on March 24. (© AP Images)

“Reconciliation and a political settlement remain the surest way to achieve the full drawdown of U.S. and foreign troops from Afghanistan in a way that safeguards international interests and peace in Afghanistan, as well as U.S. national security interests,” Obama said.

The United States will continue to support the national unity government’s efforts to combat corruption, uphold the rule of law and strengthen democratic institutions.

“America will continue to be your partner in advancing the rights and dignity of all Afghans, including women and girls,” Obama said.

During a ceremony at the Pentagon, Ghani thanked U.S. service members for their support and sacrifice for the Afghan people. Ghani said America’s positive role in Afghanistan extends beyond the military effort against terrorism.

“You were not there just to fight. … You built schools, you built dams, you build roads, and while the physical infrastructure [has] changed lives, it is the attitude [of caring, discipline and sacrifice] that you brought with it,” Ghani said.