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White House downplays 'leaked transcripts of phone calls' between Biden and Ghani

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The White House refused to draw further attention to reports President Joe Biden and ousted Afghan President Ashraf Ghani were unprepared for Afghanistan's quick collapse and that Biden had encouraged his counterpart in Kabul, Afghanistan, to fix his "perception" problem by selling a military strategy with local political heavyweights.

Biden also challenged Ghani to "project a different picture" than that of a failing war effort against the Taliban, "whether it is true or not."

Press secretary Jen Psaki declined to comment on "private diplomatic conversations or leaked transcripts of phone calls" on Wednesday.

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"Our national security team and no one in Congress, or I would say most people out in the public, anticipated that the Taliban would be able to take over the country as quickly as they did or that the Afghan National Security Forces would fall as quickly as they did," she said. "So even the content of the reporting is consistent with what we've said many times publicly."

But Psaki qualified her comments on Wednesday, adding that there may have been "individuals in agencies" who had warned of the worst case scenario. A day earlier, she contended there were no dissenters "anywhere in the world."

"They needed to come together in a cohesive manner. They needed to be united. They needed to show the country and the Afghan people they were going to fight and they were going to lead this transition, even as U.S. forces left," she said Wednesday.

Biden did not entertain questions about the report earlier Wednesday when asked before his meeting with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky at the Oval Office.

Biden dangled aid in exchange for Ghani publicly presenting a plan to counter the Taliban's advance during the pair's 14-minute July 23 conversation, roughly a month before he fled his country in anticipation of the Taliban taking Kabul.

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“I need not tell you the perception around the world and in parts of Afghanistan, I believe, is that things are not going well in terms of the fight against the Taliban,” Biden said. “And there is a need, whether it is true or not, there is a need to project a different picture.”

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Tags: News, Biden, Biden Administration, Joe Biden, White House, Jen Psaki, Afghanistan, War in Afghanistan, National Security

Original Author: Naomi Lim

Original Location: White House downplays 'leaked transcripts of phone calls' between Biden and Ghani

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