Election Success Fails to Clarify Afghan Future

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is hailing the triumph of “statesmanship and compromise” in Afghanistan, which will inaugurate its new president on Monday.

In a Washington Post op-ed on Saturday, Kerry cheered the millions of Afghan voters and hailed the agreement made by the country’s two presidential candidates. He wrote the inauguration of President Ashraf Ghani, will mark “the first democratic transfer of power in Afghanistan’s history and the first peaceful leadership transition in more than 40 years.”

Kerry said Ghani will “work in tandem with the country’s first-ever chief executive officer,” Abdullah Abdullah. Ghani and Abdullah reached their power-sharing agreement last week, three months after the country’s presidential election failed to find a clear successor to Hamid Karzai, president since 2004.

But while Kerry wrote of the bright future awaiting Afghanistan, the country’s foreign minister warned that terrorism and extremism threatened to unravel progress in his country.

Speaking before the United Nations General Assembly, Zarar Ahmad Osmani said the “growing levels of violent extremism” around the world makes NATO’s support of his country “imperative” if the fragile democracy is to survive.

U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon met with Osmani and assured him of the world body’s commitment to support Afghanistan.

Only last week, a raid by some 700 Taliban fighters in Ghazi province left more than 100 people dead, including 15 who were beheaded by the militants. The Taliban are fighting to expel U.S.-led foreign forces and the U.S.-backed Kabul government.

US governors visit

Four U.S. governors have made a surprise visit to Afghanistan as part of a delegation visiting troops and receiving briefings on counterterrorism and security issues.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, along with Brian Sandoval of Nevada, Bill Haslam of Tennessee and Jay Nixon of Missouri, traveled with officials from the U.S. Department of Defense, which sponsored the trip.

Cuomo said in a statement that he was working to increase preparedness and protect New Yorkers from the threat of global terrorism. He also praised the work of the members of the U.S. military fighting overseas.

Because of security concerns, the trip could not be disclosed publicly in advance.

The delegation included Brad Carson, under secretary of the Army.

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