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Ashraf Ghani, left, president of Afghanistan, and Abdullah Abdullah, chairman of the High Council for National Reconciliation. Photo: Sean Gallup/Getty Images

As the U.S. troop withdrawal accelerates, President Biden will welcome Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and Abdullah Abdullah, chairman of Afghanistan’s High Council for National Reconciliation, at the White House on Friday.

Our thought bubble: Axios politics editor Glen Johnson, who traveled to Afghanistan while working for Secretary of State John Kerry, said inviting both Ghani and Abdullah to Washington shows the administration’s respect for the delicate balance of power in the country.

  • The two worked out an initial power-sharing agreement in 2014 that has faltered over the years but, since renewed in May 2020, has largely provided a framework for governance and engagement with the United States and the rest of the world.
  • The Afghan government now faces its greatest peril as the United States withdraws its troops and the Taliban recaptures territory and asserts itself.
  • Inviting both leaders for talks in Washington is both a sign of respect and a means for the Biden administration to have direct engagement and give the two leaders a public sign of support back home.

Between the lines: Glen reports that Pentagon officials fear a bloodbath when the U.S. completes its troop withdrawal.

  • The president has set a Sept. 11 deadline, to mark the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, but Defense Department officials expect the withdrawal to largely be completed by July 4.

Afghanistan's former president, Hamid Karzai, said Sunday that the United States has failed its primary objectives to "fight extremism and bring stability" to the war-ravaged nation, the Associated Press reports.

What they're saying: “The international community came here 20 years ago with this clear objective of fighting extremism and bringing stability ... but extremism is at the highest point today. So they have failed,” Karzai said, per AP.

  • “We recognize as Afghans all our failures, but what about the bigger forces and powers who came here for exactly that purpose? Where are they leaving us now? In total disgrace."
  • "The United States will remain deeply engaged with the Government of Afghanistan to ensure the country never again becomes a safe haven for terrorist groups who pose a threat to the U.S. homeland," White House press secretary Jen Psaki said in a statement on Sunday. "The United States continues to fully support the ongoing peace process and encourages all Afghan parties to participate meaningfully in negotiations to bring an end to the conflict."

Go deeper: Pakistan PM will "absolutely not" allow CIA to use bases for Afghanistan operations

Go deeper

Sep 25, 2021 - World

Neo-Nazi groups thrive online through merchandise and ticket sales

Photo: Rafael Henrique/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Multiple groups of neo-Nazi members are thriving on social media platforms despite those companies' commitment to fighting extremism, the Associated Press reports.

Why it matters: Dozens of far-right groups use their Facebook, YouTube and Instagram platforms to spread their ideology, draw in recruits and generate millions in sales through events and merchandise.

30 mins ago - Health

White House says Obamacare sign-ups hit record

Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra speaking in the White House in December 2021. Photo: Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images

The White House said Thursday that a record 14.5 million Americans have signed up for health insurance through Obamacare marketplaces since Nov. 1, including more than 10 million enrollments through HealthCare.gov.

Why it matters: Last year's stimulus bill contained substantial investments in the program, including increased subsidies for people who don't receive health insurance from an employer or through Medicare or Medicaid.

51 mins ago - World

Kremlin says U.S. written responses ignored Russia's main NATO demand

Sergey Lavrov. Photo: Dimitar DilkoffI/AFP via Getty Images

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Thursday that the United States' written answers to Russia's security demands do not contain a "positive response" to the Kremlin's top priority, which is a freeze on NATO expansion, according to Russian state media.

Why it matters: A spokesperson for the Kremlin stressed that no conclusions will be drawn until Russian President Vladimir Putin has time to analyze the papers, but a lack of movement on Russia's core concerns means the crisis over Ukraine is unlikely to de-escalate.

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