Presidents Bush, Karzai Committed To Rebuilding Afghanistan
06 August 2007
More than $23 billion in U.S. aid has saved lives, delivered hope
Washington –- President Bush and Afghan President Hamid Karzai remain committed to defeating remaining Taliban insurgents, bringing al-Qaida terrorists to justice and helping Afghanistan emerge from decades of poverty and violence.
“History has called us into action,” Bush told reporters at an August 6 joint press conference following two days of talks at the presidential retreat at Camp David, Maryland. “And by fighting extremists and radicals, we help people realize dreams. And helping people realize dreams helps promote peace. That's what we want.”
As the sixth anniversary of the September 11, 2001, attacks on the United States approaches, the two leaders took stock of Afghanistan’s achievements since the ouster of the Taliban. The United States has contributed more than $23 billion to rebuilding Afghanistan since then, Bush said, and has worked alongside 36 other countries taking part in the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force to stabilize the country.
“We're working closely together to help the people of Afghanistan prosper,” Bush said. “We work together to give the people of Afghanistan a chance to raise their children in a hopeful world. And we're working together to defeat those who would try to stop the advance of a free Afghan society.”
Karzai thanked the international community for doing its part to save the lives of 85,000 Afghan children, through actions such as U.S. training for 7,000 Afghan health care workers since 2001. Otherwise, these children would died in view of the country’s previous infant mortality rates. (See related article.)
“When you and I begin to think of the mothers who can have their babies safe today, then we know the value and the importance of this achievement,” Karzai said.
Many Afghans still are suffering, said Karzai, but millions are enjoying a better and more secure life, safe in the knowledge that the Taliban, while still capable of launching deadly attacks against innocents, are not strong enough to threaten Afghanistan’s governing institutions.
“It's a force that’s defeated; it’s a force that is frustrated; it’s a force that is acting in cowardice by killing children going to school,” Karzai said.
More than 100,000 Afghan soldiers and police are fighting to take back their country and the United States remains strongly committed to their success, providing, training, equipment and advisers.
The meeting comes as Karzai prepares to host the Joint Afghanistan-Pakistan Jirga, a convocation headed by the Afghan president and his Pakistani counterpart, President Pervez Musharraf, which will be dedicated to formulating new strategies to confront Taliban and al-Qaida elements.
“Our enemy is still there – defeated, but still hiding in the mountains,” Karzai said. “And our duty is to complete the job, to get them out of their hideouts in the mountains and to bring justice to the people of Afghanistan, to the people of America, and to the people around the world who are threatened by these terrorists.”
The two leaders also discussed ways to give Afghan farmers incentives to cultivate crops other than opium poppies. Illicit trafficking in heroin, which is derived from opium, is encouraging drug addiction in Afghanistan and around the world, financing continued militant violence and promoting a climate of corruption in local and provincial governments.
A transcript of comments by Bush and Karzai is available on the White House Web site.
A link to a video on changes in Afghanistan over the past five years is available at the NATO Web site.
For more information on U.S. policies, see Rebuilding Afghanistan.
(USINFO is produced by the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)
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