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Ghani off to Washington for flurry of meetings

KABUL: At the head of a high-level delegation, including Chief Executive Officer Dr. Abdullah, President Ashraf Ghani has left for his maiden state visit to the United States, his office said on Sunday.

President Barack Obama will host the Afghan leaders for lunch at the White House on Tuesday, where they will spend several hours together, including discussions at the Oval Office and addressing a joint news conference.

The two presidents will discuss a range of issues including security, economic development, and US support for the Afghan-led reconciliation process. It will be the first meeting between the two presidents at the White House following the 2014 presidential election.

Ghani, however, would begin his official meetings at the Pentagon on Monday morning, where he would be received by Defense Secretary Ashton Carter. Ghani and Carter would deliver remarks at a thanking service for the veterans who served in Afghanistan.

From Pentagon, Ghani will travel to the picturesque presidential retreat of Camp David for talks with Secretary of State John Kerry and other top US officials.

The delegations are expected to discuss bilateral and regional issues, including the pace of the drawdown of troops from Afghanistan. The Camp David talks would set the tone for the next day’s Obama-Ghani meeting.

On Wednesday, the last day of his Washington trip, the Afghan president will address a joint session of Congress. This is a rare invitation extended to a foreign leader. Both Ghani and Abdullah will also address Washington’s think-tank community and meet the Afghan diaspora.

Accompanied by senior officials, Ghani would meet UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in New York on Thursday, a statement from the Presidential Palace said.

Foreign Minister Salahuddin Rabbani, National Security Advisor Hanif Atmar, Finance Minister Eklil Hakimi, Chief of Army Staff Sher Mohammad Karimi and spymaster Rahmatullah Nabil.

Chief of Staff to the President Abdul Salam Rahimi, Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission Chairperson Seema Samar, Finance Advisor Omar Zakhilwal and High Peace Council Secretary Masoom Stanikzai. (PAN)

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