17:08 GMT15 April 2021
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    Biden said the US would likely fail to meet the 1 May deadline to pull out Amercian troops from Afghanistan, but added that he couldn't "picture" American military presence in the country next year.

    US President Joe Biden has become the butt of social media jokes after he mistakenly referred to Afghanistan's President Ashraf Ghani as "Kayani" during his first press conference since taking office in January.

    "We are not staying for a long time. We will leave", said Biden, when asked by a reporter if the US would be able to meet its 1 May deadline to withdraw troops from Afghanistan.

    "And General Austin (US Defence Secretary Lloyd J Austin) just met Kayani (Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani). He is the leader of Afghanistan in Kabul… I am just waiting for a briefing on that", said Biden, as he spelled out the interactions US officials have been having on Afghanistan with Washington's NATO allies as well as other governments around the world in recent days.

    Biden also stated in his response that he couldn't "picture" US troops staying in Afghanistan next year.

    While US Defence Secretary Lloyd J Austin paid a secret visit to Afghanistan over the weekend, on the heels of a trip to India, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken was in Brussels this week to discuss the Biden administration's strategy in Afghanistan in the coming months.

    The insurgency-ravaged country has been witnessing a surge in attacks targeting civilians and government installations in recent weeks, as the previously agreed 1 May deadline to pull out troops from the country approaches.

    Afghanistan's civilian government headed by President Ghani has blamed the Taliban for the uptick in violence, with the militant group denying any responsibility for the strikes.

    Most recently, a militant raid at a police base on 13 March in the province of Herat, close to the Iranian border, resulted in the deaths of 22 people, including Afghan security personnel as well as civilians. The Taliban said that it didn't carry out the strike, even as President Ghani remarked that the attack "demonstrated once again they [the Taliban] have no intention" of carrying forward the US-brokered intra-Afghan peace process.


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