More than five-thousand Afghan men and women have registered as candidates in elections for Afghanistan's national assembly and provincial assemblies. The voting will take place on September 18th. President George W. Bush says that he is impressed by the political progress in Afghanistan:
"One of the things that's very important. . . .is a shift of opinion taking place where now women are equal partners in society. . . .There's quite a number of candidates. . . .who are women. The example being set by Afghanistan in that part of the world is an. . . .important message, because you can't have a free and hopeful society unless women are full participants in the society."
The U.S. has already contributed twelve million dollars, joining with others and the United Nations to support the upcoming Afghan elections. The U.S. and other nations will continue to help Afghans meet their security needs. The new Afghan army, says Mr. Bush, is already taking a greater role in providing security:
"Now there's over twenty-five-thousand troops who are trained and ready to fight, and they take the fight to these thugs that are coming across the border to create havoc. And we've got another, I think, twenty-two-thousand to train to get this army fully stood up. Our mission in Afghanistan and Iraq is the same. We want these new democracies to be able to defend themselves. And so we will continue to work with the Afghans to train them and to cooperate and consult with the [Afghan] government."
Hamid Karzai, Afghanistan's president, was in the U.S. to meet with President Bush and other officials. "The country is moving ahead," says Mr. Karzai. But he says "Afghanistan will not suddenly stand on its feet":
"Politically, we will have. . . .completed the process. But in terms of the institutional strength, Afghanistan will continue to need a lot of support."
"Afghanistan is a key partner in the global war on terror," says President Bush. The U.S., he says, "will continue to fight side-by-side to defeat the few who want to stop the ambitions of the many."
The preceding was an editorial reflecting the views of the United States government.