Afghan president expected to get warm welcome from Congress



Afghan President Ashraf Ghani is untested as a leader, yet he is expected to get a warm reception from both Republicans and Democrats on Capitol Hill.

The reason: He’s not former Afghan President Hamid Karzai.

The White House says Ghani’s speech Wednesday to a joint meeting of Congress is an opportunity to mark a new chapter in U.S.-Afghanistan relations, which were strained by acrimony between President Barack Obama and Karzai.

Afghanistan’s President Ashraf Ghani speaks during a joint news conference with President Barack Obama, Tuesday, March 24, 2015, in the East Room of the White House in Washington. Ghani represents Obama’s last, best hope to make good on his promise to end America’s longest war by the time he leaves office, keeping just a thousand or so troops at the embassy to coordinate security.

In a shift from his previous plan, Obama announced Tuesday that the U.S. would leave its 9,800 troops in Afghanistan in place rather than downsizing to 5,500 by year’s end.

Obama says the size of the U.S. footprint for next year is still to be decided, but he’s brushing aside any speculation the withdrawal will bleed into 2017.



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