US & Canada

Ashraf Ghani: Afghan leader praises US sacrifice

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani addressing a joint session of the US Congress on 25 March 2015 Image copyright AFP

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani has told Congress his country owes the US a "profound debt" for its sacrifices.

Mr Ghani received a warm reception from both Republicans and Democrats as he addressed both US legislative chambers.

He thanked the US for its military contribution to Afghanistan, its aid and its civilian assistance.

Hours before he spoke, a car bombing in Kabul that killed six people was a reminder of the ongoing security problems hampering the reconstruction.

"We owe a profound debt to the soldiers who have lost limbs to buried bombs, to the brave veterans, and to the families who tragically lost their loved ones to the enemy's cowardly acts of terror," he said.

Mr Ghani promised to be a trustworthy partner as his country tries to rebuild after a decade of war.

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Media captionSenator Christopher Murphy is supportive of the US military mission in Afghanistan

Despite the problems, his presidency is a welcome change for the White House, whose relationship with his predecessor Hamad Karzai grew increasingly strained in recent years.

A sign of that new trust was the White House announcement on Tuesday that the US will keep nearly 10,000 troops in Afghanistan to bolster security throughout 2015, delaying plans for a gradual withdrawal.

Originally, officials had planned to cut the US troop presence to 5,500 by the end of 2015.

Lawmakers from both parties welcomed the White House's troop announcement, despite some war weariness. The war has claimed 2,200 lives.

Mr Ghani warned that the so-called Islamic State represented a "clear and present danger" to Afghanistan and neighbouring countries.

"Terrorist movements whose goal is to de-stabilise every state in the region are looking for new bases of operation," Mr Ghani said.

"From the west, the IS militants are sending advance guards to southern and western Afghanistan."

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