US, Afghanistan set stage for 'new era' in relations
U.S. and Afghan officials set the stage for a new era in relations Monday, as the Obama administration announced it will seek additional funding for Afghanistan's fledgling military, Anadolu agency reported.
The full-day meeting at Camp David, the presidential retreat in Maryland's western mountains, brought together Secretary of State John Kerry, Defense Secretary Ashton Carter, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and Chief Executive Abdullah Abullah, in addition to dozens of U.S. and Afghan officials.
Ghani is expected to meet with President Barack Obama on Tuesday.
Carter announced that the Pentagon will seek funding for Afghanistan's military through 2017 during a joint press conference Monday afternoon.
Ghani, who has urged Washington to slow the pace of its troop wind down due to his country's uncertain security situation, said the additional funding is "a major statement of support."
"Our armed forces and our security forces are going to greet this with enormous welcome, because it gives them the assurance that the Resolute Support mission is continuing and that we are able to focus on our key priorities," he said.
Asked if the U.S. is considering a slowing in its withdrawal of approximately 10,000 remaining troops in Afghanistan, Kerry said, "President Obama is actively considering that request. Those discussions remain ongoing and those will really be the focus of the discussions tomorrow with President Obama in the White House."
The U.S. ended its combat mission in Afghanistan at the end of 2014, and is slated to nearly half its troop presence by the end of 2015.
Kerry further announced that the U.S. would use $800 million in aid to incentivize Kabul to take "reform and develop activities."
"This initiative reflects the strategic importance of the U.S.-Afghan relationship, and it recognizes a new era of cooperation between our governments," he said.
U.S. and Afghan officials further announced an energy initiative, which Ghani said "will turn us into a hub, where energy from Central Asia and also, increasingly generated and from Afghanistan will flow into south Asia."