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Rice On Afghanistan's Progress

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice says, “The United States and the entire free world have a vital interest in the victory of our Afghan partners over the Taliban, and the consolidation and empowerment of an effective democratic state.” Since 2001, she said, there has been much success in Afghanistan:

“First, and most importantly, we have seen that whenever the Afghan people have an opportunity to choose a course for their nation, they have voted overwhelmingly, and often at great personal risk and sacrifice, for a future of democracy and modernity and liberty under law, not for the medieval despotism of the Taliban.”

The Taliban, said Secretary of State Rice, remains a serious challenge:

“The Taliban’s theory of victory is not to prevail on the battlefield, or to win hearts and minds. It is simply to undermine the elected Afghan government, fracture the international coalition, and outlast us.”

“We can defeat the Taliban on the battlefield,” she said, “but we will render the Taliban obsolete by supporting an effective, democratic Afghan state that can meet the needs of its people.” The U.S. and its coalition partners are sending more troops to help Afghans meet their security needs. At the same time, said Secretary of State Rice, “we and our allies are helping the Afghan government to marry these security gains with good governance and economic development”:

“Success depends on expanding the good work of our Provincial Reconstruction Teams. These teams lead our growing effort to help Afghan leaders, both national and local, to promote the rule of law, to strengthen their ministries, to deliver essential services like health and education to the people, and to lay a foundation for long-term private investment.”

Secretary Rice noted that “a new strategic opportunity comes from the transition to democracy that is underway in Pakistan.” The U.S., she said, supports “intensified Pakistani-Afghani dialogue on regional security.” The U.S., said Secretary of State Rice, has “a unique opportunity to foster the lasting security of a troubled region, a region that is of vital interest to our nation.”