WASHINGTON - Afghan President Ashraf Ghani arrived in Washington on Sunday for his first official visit to the United States since taking office in January. At the outset, US officials say they hope to use the opportunity presented by this visit to build up the bilateral relationship, which has improved greatly since Ghani took over from his predecessor, Hamid Karzai.

“This is a different relationship than we had under President Karzai,” Jeff Eggers, special assistant to the President for Afghanistan and Pakistan, told reporters in a conference call. “It’s clearly more cooperative and better.”

In an appearance aired Sunday on CNN’s ‘Fareed Zakaria GPS’, Ghani again praised the US troops and warned of what might come of their absence.“The result is that America has been secure, thank God,” he said. “There’s been no terrorist attack on mainland United States. We have been the front line. Meanwhile, what needs to be underlined is while tragedy brought us together, there are common interests that now can be articulated very clearly.

The threats that we are facing on a daily basis, were they, God forbid, to overwhelm us, will threaten the world at large.”