Obama to Host Afghan Leaders at White House

Obama to Host Afghan Leaders at White HouseObama to Host Afghan Leaders at White House

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah are to visit the White House next month, and Ghani has accepted an invitation to speak to a joint meeting of Congress at a time when the Obama administration is weighing whether to slow the pace of US troop withdrawals from the country.

The White House said Ghani and Abdullah will visit March 24. It’s the leaders’ first visit since they formed a unity government after an election to replace former president Hamid Karzai, AP reported.

White House spokesman Josh Earnest said the Afghan leaders will discuss security, economic development and reconciliation efforts between the Taliban and the government. Ghani will also meet with Secretary of State John Kerry at the Camp David presidential retreat in Maryland.

Ghani will address Congress on March 25. Karzai had previously appeared before a joint meeting of Congress on June 15, 2004.

“Afghanistan is an important friend and ally to the United States,” said House Speaker John Boehner, who invited Ghani to speak. “This joint address presents an important opportunity to hear from the newly-elected president on how the US can continue to work together to promote our shared goals and reaffirms our commitment to the Afghan people.”

Ghani’s appearance is not expected to spur the controversy Boehner has faced since inviting Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to speak to Congress next Tuesday.

Boehner invited Netanyahu without consulting with the White House or Democratic leaders in Congress, and several Democrats plan to skip the speech.