Afghanistan crisis: US declines to say if Ashraf Ghani is still Afghan president

WASHINGTON: Amid the Afghanistan crisis, the US State Department on Monday declined to say if the United States still recognized Ashraf Ghani as the Afghan president 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.

Ghani is said to have flown to Uzbekistan. 

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.

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