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Afghan President Ashraf Ghani. Photo: Nakib Murodov/Presidency of Tajikistan/Handout/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani on Saturday made his first public remarks since the Taliban captured over half of the country's provincial capitals, saying that he's focusing on preventing "instability, violence and the displacement of people."

State of play: In a televised speech, Ghani gave no hints that he would resign, despite being under pressure from Afghan officials who want a transitional government headed by someone who can negotiate with the Taliban to prevent their takeover of Kabul, the Wall Street Journal reports.

  • The removal of Ghani has been a demand by the Taliban as negotiations between Afghanistan, the Taliban, the United States and other nations continue in Qatar, the Journal notes.
  • Ghani is losing control of the country, ruling only Kabul and a few other cities, per The New York Times.

The big picture: Less than three weeks before the United States finishes its troop withdrawal, the Taliban has captured 19 provincial capitals, per AP, including the province of Logar, which is just miles south from Kabul.

  • The group also captured Sharana, the capital of the Paktika province, which borders Pakistan.

What he's saying: "I will try not to allow the imposed war to cause more casualties of innocent Afghan people, to lose the 20-year gains, to cause destruction of public property and to bring an enduring instability," Ghani said.

  • "For this reason, I have begun extensive and continued consultations within the system with political leaders, representatives of different groups in Afghanistan and international partners," he added.
  • "Consultations in this regard are swiftly going on and their results will be shared with you, my beloved compatriots, very soon."

Go deeper

Updated Sep 16, 2021 - Axios Des Moines

Iowa projected to help resettle hundreds of Afghan refugees

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Iowa will help resettle between 350 to 400 Afghan refugees, according to projections provided to Axios by resettlement agencies and a state official this week.

Why it matters: President Biden's administration is processing and resettling tens of thousands of Afghans across the United States over the next several weeks — and we're starting to get a better idea of Iowa's role in the efforts.

11 hours ago - Health

FDA advisory panel recommends Pfizer boosters for those 65 and older

A healthcare worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine at the Key Biscayne Community Center on Aug. 24, 2021. Photo: Eva Marie Uzcategui/Bloomberg via Getty Images

A key Food and Drug Administration advisory panel on Friday overwhelmingly voted against recommending Pfizer vaccine booster shots for younger Americans, but unanimously recommended approving the third shots for individuals 65 and older, as well as those at high-risk of severe COVID-19.

Why it matters: While the votes are non-binding, and the FDA must still make a final decision, Friday's move pours cold water on the Biden administration's plan to begin administering boosters to most individuals who received the Pfizer vaccine later this month.

11 hours ago - World

France recalls ambassadors from U.S. and Australia over submarine deal

Secretary of State Antony Blinken (L), French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian (C), and French ambassador to the U.S. Philippe Etienne. Photo: Nicholas Kamm/AFP via Getty Images

France has taken the extraordinary step of recalling its ambassadors to the U.S. and Australia after both countries blindsided their French allies with a new military pact and submarine contract, the French Foreign Ministry announced on Friday.

The backstory: While sealing an agreement with the U.S. and U.K. to acquire nuclear submarines, Australia ripped up an existing $90 billion submarine deal with France. That led senior French officials to accuse the U.S. of a "stab in the back."

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