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Foreign Affairs

Ghani asked to “Change Perception” by President Biden

U.S. President Joe Biden and his Afghanistan counterpart, Ashraf Ghani, in their last conversation prior to the invasion of the Taliban and seizing control of the country, the leaders discussed military aid, political strategy, and messaging tactics, but neither of them seemed to be apprised of or prepared for the immediate danger of the country falling to the militants, a transcript reviewed by Reuters shows.

The conversation roughly lasted for 14 minutes on July 23. On August 15, Mr. Ghani fled the presidential palace, and the Taliban entered Kabul.

Reuters reviewed a transcript of the presidential phone call and has listened to the audio to authenticate the conversation. The materials were provided on condition of anonymity by a source who was not authorized to distribute it.

In the call, Mr. Biden offered aid if Mr. Ghani could publicly project he had a plan to control the spiraling situation in Afghanistan. “We will continue to provide close air support if we know what the plan is,” Mr. Biden said. Days before the call, the U.S. carried out airstrikes to support Afghan security forces, a move the Taliban said violated the Doha peace agreement.

The U.S. President also advised Mr. Ghani to get buy-in from powerful Afghans for a military strategy going forward, and then to put a “warrior” in charge of the effort, a reference to Defence Minister General Bismillah Khan Mohammadi.

Mr. Biden’s words indicated he didn’t anticipate the insurrection and collapse to come 23 days later. “We are going to continue to fight hard, diplomatically, politically, economically, to make sure your government not only survives but is sustained and grows,” he said.

Mr. Ghani told Mr. Biden he believed there could be peace if he could “rebalance the military solution”. But he added, “We need to move with speed.” “We are facing a full-scale invasion, composed of Taliban, full Pakistani planning and logistical support, and at least10-15,000 international terrorists, predominantly Pakistanis were thrown into this,” Mr. Ghani said.

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