U.S. aid cut will not impact Afghan sectors: President Ghani

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Afghan President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani said on Tuesday that a 1-billion-U.S. dollar reduction in economic aid to Afghanistan would not have an impact on the country’s key sectors and departments.

“Governments always have plans for prudential circumstances. We also had some basic plans for the unexpected situation,” Ghani said in a televised speech.

“I can assure you that the reduction in U.S. assistance will not have direct impact on our departments and sectors. We will try to fill the vacuum with the help of alternative resources.” he said.

On Feb. 18, the Afghan election commission declared Ghani winner of the presidential election nearly five months after the voting, but his rival Abdullah Abdullah disputed the result.

Both Ghani and Abdullah took oath as president of Afghanistan on March 9.

After talks with Afghan leaders during a visit to Afghanistan on Monday, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the United States is reducing assistance by 1 billion U.S. dollars to Afghanistan this year due to the Afghan leadership’s failure to form an inclusive government.

During the meetings in Kabul, Pompeo reportedly failed to make compromise between Ghani and Abdullah to form a unity government.

However, Ghani noted that the United States did not suspend its assistance to Afghanistan but had made providing the assistance conditional.

“We will continue our efforts to resolve the issue through negotiations,” Ghani said.

Following his meeting with Afghan leaders in Kabul on Monday, Pompeo had a brief stay in Doha, Qatar, where he met with the Afghan Taliban’s political chief Mullah Baradar.

The U.S. and Taliban inked a deal in the Gulf state of Qatar on Feb. 29.

Under the agreement, the United States would reduce its forces in Afghanistan to 8,600 within 135 days and all the U.S.-led coalition forces would return home within 14 months from Afghanistan depending on Taliban’s meeting the conditions envisaged in the agreement, including severing ties with terrorist groups such as Islamic State and al-Qaida.

In his speech, Ghani also renewed his call on Taliban to agree a ceasefire as the country was facing challenges amid COVID-19 outbreak.

Some 42 COVID-19 cases and one death were reported in Afghanistan since mid last month.

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