Ghani hopes Afghanistan will never need foreign troops

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Afghanistan's President Ashraf Ghani addresses delegates during the London Conference on Afghanistan, in central London, on Decmeber 4, 2014. Afghanistan's new leaders were seeking to build bridges with the West at a conference in London Thursday as they struggle to bring peace while foreign combat forces withdraw after 13 years. AFP PHOTO / DAN KITWOOD/POOL
Afghanistan’s President Ashraf Ghani addresses delegates during the London Conference on Afghanistan, in central London, on Decmeber 4, 2014. Afghanistan’s new leaders were seeking to build bridges with the West at a conference in London Thursday as they struggle to bring peace while foreign combat forces withdraw after 13 years. AFP PHOTO / DAN KITWOOD/POOL

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani on Thursday voiced the hope his country would never again need foreign combat troops and said he wanted to “do business differently” with the international community.

“Afghans in our very long history have only needed direct combat support in the last 30 years. We hope that we will never need direct combat support,” he said after a conference in London.

“The world is not responsible for everything for Afghanistan. It is us who are responsible for everything,” Ghani told reporters, speaking alongside British Prime Minister David Cameron.

Ghani, who formed a national unity government with his election rival Abdullah Abdullah in September, has spoken about the need for Afghan self-reliance as foreign combat troops withdraw after 13 years.

He also referred to the ongoing security challenges.

“It’s not always that we have to face these threats with military power. We have to focus on softer ways to deal with these things, on investment, on economic activities,” he said.

Cameron said: “In all of those transitions we will be with you every step of the way, helping where we can.”

At the conference, Ghani signalled a shift from his predecessor Hamid Karzai in a speech to delegates including Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and US Secretary of State John Kerry.

“We are determined to do business differently. Now we hope that our partners will be joining us in a full spirit of give and take,” he said.

“Your continued support for Afghanistan… gives us the confidence that you will be standing next to us, though in a non-combat role.

“This transition from combat to non-combat is welcome,” he said.

Ghani also promised to set up a new cabinet with the country’s chief executive officer Abdullah “within two to four weeks” of returning to Kabul.

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