US secretary of state Antony Blinken said that former Afghan president Ashraf Ghani told him; that he was “ready to fight to death” but fled the country the “very next day.”
Blinken made the remarks during his interview to a talk show in American television channel CBS.
The comments from Blinken came a few days after Zalmay Khalilzad; former US envoy to Afghanistan, had said America didn’t push Ghani enough for sharing power with the Taliban; in an interview to the same show on October 24.
Khalilzad had quit as the US ambassador to the war-torn country earlier on October 18.
“I was on the phone with President Ghani on a Saturday night; pressing him to make sure he was ready to agree with the plan we were trying to put into effect; to do a transfer of power; to a new government that would’ve been led by the Taliban; but been inclusive and included all aspects of Afghan society;” Blinken said on ‘Face the Nation’ in CBS, when asked if more should have been done to prevent the collapse of the government in Kabul, referring to Khalilzad’s remarks.
“And he told me on the phone he was prepared to do that, but if the Taliban wouldn’t go along, he was ready to fight to the death. And the very next day; he fled Afghanistan. So I was engaged with President Ghani over many weeks, many months,” he added.
He addressed the interview via video conferencing from Rome, Italy; where the G20 summit concluded earlier on Sunday.
In the same programme, Khalilzad had said, “We could have pushed harder. I believe in retrospect; my judgment is that we could have pressed President Ghani harder,” when asked if the US should have pushed the former Afghan president harder for a power sharing deal with the Taliban.
Earlier on August 15, Ghani had fled the country following the rapid advance of the Taliban to capital city Kabul after the US announced their phased withdrawal from Afghanistan.
He later issued a statement on September 8 in which he said; “Leaving Kabul was the most difficult decision of my life, but believed it was the only way to keep the guns silent and save Kabul and her 6 million citizens,” news agency PTI reported.