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9/26/03 - BUSH ON AFGHANISTAN - 2003-09-26

The United States is committed to the reconstruction of a new and democratic Afghanistan. In December, a draft constitution will be considered by a Constitutional Loya Jirga, or National Council. This is part of the process outlined under the Bonn Accords that has already resulted in formation of a government under President Hamid Karzai. Political parties have formed and banking laws have been established. Schools have reopened and increasing numbers of Afghan boys -- and girls -- are receiving an education. The government of President Karzai is encouraging private sector investment and productivity.

Troops under the direction of NATO, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, provide security in and around Kabul, the Afghan capital. This is NATO’s first activity outside Europe. Recently, coalition forces, as well as elements of the new Afghan army, have launched major military operations. These operations are tracking down remnants of the former Taleban regime and al-Qaida terrorists.

Afghanistan was the first battleground in the war against global terrorism. As President George W. Bush said to the United Nations General Assembly, the Taleban regime had made a choice:

“The Taleban was a sponsor and servant of terrorism. When confronted, that regime chose defiance, and that regime is no more. Afghanistan’s president now represents a free people who are building a decent and just society. They’re building a nation fully joined in the war against terror.”

The accomplishments in Afghanistan are a good beginning. But President Bush said that more needs to be done:

The terrorists and their allies fear and fight this progress, above all, because free people embrace hope over resentment, and choose peace over violence.... Our efforts to rebuild that country go on. I have recently proposed to spend an additional one-billion-two-hundred-million dollars for the Afghan reconstruction effort, and I urge other nations to continue to this important cause."

The challenge is to stay the course, and the United States is committed to doing that. As Afghan president Hamid Karzai pointed out, “This depends not only on the resolute determination of the Afghan people but also on the continued engagement of the international community.”