31 March 2004
Powell Sees Strong International Support for Afghan Reconstruction
Afghan Karzai thanks U.S. for additional $1 billion pledge
Secretary of State Colin Powell expressed optimism about the prospects for the Afghan Donors' Conference as the two-day gathering of Afghan officials and international donors from 64 nations and organizations convened in Berlin March 31.
"The international community knows its obligations and we will meet those obligations," Powell told journalists following a meeting with Afghan President Hamid Karzai.
"I think we're going to get a significant total when we add up all the pledges that I've heard about so far," he continued. "I think it shows that we have confidence in the leadership of Afghanistan, but above all we have confidence in the Afghanistan people."
Powell praised the Afghan people for the steps they have taken to rebuild their country and to install democratic institutions. He also noted the importance of current efforts to rid the country of independent militias.
"An armed population, where arms are not under the control of the state, creates a destabilizing situation," he said. "So let's get the tanks and artillery pieces and large guns into concentration sites and let's continue the disarmament process."
Afghan President Hamid Karzai expressed his appreciation for continued U.S. support for Afghanistan, noting that the United States' pledge of an additional $1 billion on top of the previously announced $1.2 billion made the U.S. donation by far the largest to Afghanistan.
He also highlighted U.S. assistance in building some 300 schools and 378 clinics.
Secretary Powell noted that circumstances are improving in Afghanistan. "You see it in the mere fact that some 3 million refugees have returned to their homes, voting with their feet for the future of their country," he said.
"They would not be coming home unless they had confidence in the leadership of the country, unless they had confidence that the international community would be there for them," he added.
Following is a transcript of remarks by Secretary Powell and President Karzai following their meeting:
Remarks with President Hamid Karzai of the Transitional Islamic State of Afghanistan After Their Meeting
Secretary Colin L. Powell
International Conference On Afghanistan
Intercontinental Hotel, Berlin, Germany
March 31, 2004
Secretary Powell with Afghan President Hamid Karzai
PRESIDENT KARZAI: Ladies and gentlemen, greetings. It's such a tremendous pleasure and honor to have my good friend and a real fine statesman, Secretary Powell, again together in maybe how many days 15 days time? Two weeks time? The last time was in Kabul; today we are in Berlin. I heard Secretary Powell had a very wonderful speech earlier: full of support for Afghanistan, full of commitment of the United States for Afghanistan. And the U.S. has announced an additional $1 billion dollars on top of the $1.2 billion dollars that was announced for Afghanistan earlier. This makes the United States the biggest donor to Afghanistan: in terms of peace building and in terms of reconstruction and in terms of the overall (inaudible) process in the country.
I must also say that the U.S. has given us this year around 300 schools and 378 clinics on top of those that are going to be built all over the country. So Secretary Powell, I thank you very much for the tremendous generosity that you have shown towards us, towards the Afghan people. And I thank you on behalf of all people. And please take a message from me back to the United States of extreme gratitude on that and thank President Bush, as well, please.
SECRETARY POWELL: Thank you very much, Mr. President, I will take that message back to President Bush and to the American people. I am very pleased to be here at this Berlin Conference to join delegations representing some 64 other nations and international organizations who have come together to show the commitment of the international community to the future of Afghanistan and to the welfare of the Afghanistan people. I expect this to be a successful conference. I think we're going to get a significant total when we add up all the pledges that I've heard about so far. I think it shows that we have confidence in the leadership of Afghanistan, but above all we have confidence in the Afghanistan people. The Afghan people want to live in peace, they want to live in freedom, they want to live in a democracy. They are demonstrating that in so many ways, by the rebuilding that is taking place in Kabul, by their willingness to participate in the process of electing a new government as they register for the elections that will now take place in September. You see it in the mere fact that some 3 million refugees have returned to their homes, voting with their feet for the future of their country. They would not be coming home unless they had confidence in the leadership of the country, unless they had confidence that the international community would be there for them, unless they had confidence in the future of their own families to do that in a
I just want to assure President Karzai, and through him all Afghans, that the United States views this as a priority mission for us, NATO views it as their number one priority operational mission. The international community knows its obligations and we will meet those obligations. And I would like to extend my thanks to Chancellor Schroeder and to Foreign Minister Fischer and the German people for hosting this conference and showing once again how Germany is committed to the future of Afghanistan, not only by hosting this conference, but by the financial contribution that Germany has made, as well as the
contribution of troop presence on the ground in Afghanistan. Thank you very much.
QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, by contrast, Iraq has had more civilians killed and bodies mutilated. Five Marines killed what is your outlook for Iraq? Can this ever end?
SECRETARY POWELL: It sure can. We re moving forward with the political process that you're well familiar with. We have [a] transitional administrative law that has been agreed upon by the Governing Council. I just met a few moments ago with Ambassador Lakdar Brahimi, and he will be heading over soon to begin consultations with the Governing Council and with the CPA on the nature of the interim government that will come into place on the first of July.
The reconstruction efforts are underway, a great deal of money is now flowing into the country, and the economy will improve, oil is flowing, the revenues are going up from oil. So a lot of good things are happening in Afghanistan in Iraq, excuse me but we still have individuals in Iraq, left over from the old regime, terrorists who have come into the country and others within the country who don't want to see Iraq become a democracy, who don't want the people of Iraq to live in peace and freedom. And these former regime elements, these terrorists and others who are making trouble, will be dealt with and will be defeated. We regret the loss of any life and I express my condolences to the families of those who lost their lives to date. But those lives are lost in the cause of freedom and the Iraqi people will be free. It will happen. They will have a democracy and the international community will make that come about just as we are helping the Afghan people to achieve their democracy.
QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, regarding Cyprus. Turkey has made an eleventh hour appeal for you personally to become involved in the peace talks that are going on in Switzerland. We re in Europe; Switzerland is close by. Do you have any plans to get involved directly in Switzerland?
SECRETARY POWELL: I've been involved rather extensively over the last 24 hours. This morning I have spoken to the Turkish Foreign Minister and the Greek Foreign Minister on the state of the discussions. I spoke to both of them yesterday and I spoke to Kofi Annan yesterday, and I spoke to Kofi Annan about two hours three hours ago. And so I'm following the negotiations very, very closely, lending the United States good offices to all the parties. Right now, I think Secretary General Annan has got his finger on the pulse there, he has additional ideas to put forward and what I've been saying to all the parties is that this is an historic opportunity it must not be lost. And this is the time for leaders to show flexibility and leaders to be willing to compromise for the greater good of the Cypriot people. And that is the message we're conveying and it's the message I conveyed again earlier this morning, as well as trying to put forward positions on the various outstanding issues that might help resolve those outstanding issues. At the moment I don't have any plans to travel to Switzerland, and I don't know if there's a need to: Secretary General Annan is there with the Greek and Turkish parties.
QUESTION: Would you mind elaborating a little on the positions that you say
SECRETARY POWELL: I think I will allow the negotiations to take place in Switzerland without commenting on them, because they are really going minute-by-minute, hour-by-hour. And I think it's best to let any commentary about positions come from Switzerland and not from Berlin.
PRESIDENT KARZAI: Yeah, yeah, go ahead. Any questions? Afghan reporters, any reporters?
QUESTION: Mr. Powell, will the United States take more active role in the disarmament of militias.
PRESIDENT KARZAI: Good question.
SECRETARY POWELL: We believe that DDR, as it's called, has to be an essential part of the political process going forward. An armed population, where arms are not under the control of the state, creates a destabilizing situation. I was pleased to see on television last night tanks being taken to consolidation sites. So, in effect it is happening. It's happening as a result of the efforts of President Karzai and his government and international communities supporting these efforts. So let's get the tanks and artillery pieces and large guns into concentration sites and let's continue the disarmament process so that, as I heard President Karzai say on many occasions, arms must be in the hands of the state and not in the hands of individual militias or those who are not answerable to the people through their democratically-elected government.
PRESIDENT KARZAI: Thank you. We support that.
Released on March 31, 2004
(Distributed by the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)
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