Afghanistan’s new president, Ashraf Ghani, stopped by the Pentagon today to thank American troops and taxpayers for the sacrifices they made to force the Taliban out of power in his country.
Ghani thanked the 1 million troops who served there, including 2,215 troops who died and the 20,000 soldiers who were wounded.
“You have been in the most remotest valleys, and the highest peaks, and the parched deserts, and beautiful valleys, but also in most demanding situations,” he said.
“When you wake up at night, sometimes you’re not sure whether you’re back there or here, but what gratifies me as the president of Afghanistan is what I’ve had the honor to hear repeatedly from American veterans, 'I have left a piece of my heart in Afghanistan.'”
Ghani also thanked the taxpayers who funded the United States' invasion of Afghanistan. The U.S. has spent nearly $700 billion on Afghanistan since 2001.
This week, Ghani will meet with President Barack Obama and appeal for help from Washington. Afghanistan is struggling to maintain financial and military stability. Ghani is familiar with American politics — he worked at the World Bank, just two blocks from the White House, for more than a decade.
Ghani said he would welcome back soldiers who want to visit Afghanistan as tourists. He believes the Afghan people “will be able to say thank you to each one of you personally, shake your hands, and invite you to our homes.”