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3/5/03 - THE U.S. AND AFGHANISTAN - 2003-03-05

Afghanistan’s president, Hamid Karzai, met in Washington, D-C, with President George W. Bush and other U.S. officials. In a statement, Mr. Bush and Mr. Karzai reaffirmed their “common vision for an Afghanistan that is prosperous, democratic, at peace, contributing to regional stability, market friendly, and respectful of human rights.”

Since 2001, the U.S. has provided more than nine-hundred-million dollars in economic assistance to Afghanistan. In 2002, humanitarian assistance from the U.S. and other countries averted a famine for some seven-million Afghans. More than two-million Afghan refugees have returned to their homes. And after decades of foreign occupation, war, and oppression, Afghanistan is beginning to rebuild.

This year will mark a bigger emphasis on rebuilding Afghan institutions and infrastructure. The U.S. is focusing its efforts on projects in transportation, agriculture, education, and health care.

The U.S. has committed eighty-million dollars to rebuilding the Kabul-Kandahar-Herat road, Afghanistan’s main transportation artery. Joining in the effort are Japan and Saudi Arabia. Agricultural projects will include six-million dollars to assist Afghanistan in managing newly repaired water systems.

In education, the U.S. is starting a sixty-million dollar program to build or repair schools, print textbooks, and train teachers. The U.S. also intends to spend more than one-hundred-thirty-million dollars for a three-year plan to construct or rehabilitate over five-hundred health care centers, expand access to health services in rural areas, and address the basic health care needs of women and children.

As the statement by President Bush and President Karzai said, “The United States and Afghanistan will work together toward that day when Afghanistan is fully secure and self-sufficient.”