In an address to a joint session of U.S. Congress, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani surveys Middle East, expresses concern over Islamic State and openness to reconciliation with Taliban. Rough Cut (no reporter narration).
ROUGH CUT (NO REPORTER NARRATION) Afghan President Ashraf Ghani told U.S. lawmakers on Wednesday that Islamic State and its allies pose a "terrible threat" to the countries of western and central Asia. In a speech to a joint meeting of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives, Ghani said Islamic State militants are already sending advance guards to southern and western Afghanistan "to test for vulnerabilities." He also said Pakistan's counter-insurgency operations are pushing the Taliban from south Waziristan toward Afghanistan's border regions. Making clear that his government would not support militants, Ghani denounced states, which he did not identify, that he said were "tolerating, financing, providing sanctuary and using violent, non-state actors as instruments of short-sighted policies." Afghan President Ashraf Ghani also said he was "confident" Afghanistan can find a path for members of the Taliban to return to society. In his speech, he described his push for national reconciliation, but said the militant fighters must break from al Qaeda. In marking Ghani's visit to the United States, U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter announced the U.S. would keep funding Afghan security forces at a targeted peak level of 352,000 personnel at least into 2017 to provide stability as foreign troops withdraw from the country. Ghani replaced Hamid Karzai as Afghan president last year and enjoys a much smoother relationship with Washington.