As the year 2004 begins, the U.S. remains committed to expanding peace, pressing for freedom and openness, and generating wealth and the opportunity for prosperity around the world. U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell says that there has been “progress in the global war against terror”:
“We’ve seen greater cooperation between the nations of the world. But the challenge ahead of us is a difficult one and a long one. As the President said from the very beginning, after nine-eleven, it will take a long time. It will take our best efforts, and it will take working with all of our friends and partners.”
In 2003, with the help of U.S.-led coalitions, progress was made in Afghanistan and Iraq. This month in Afghanistan, the loya jirga, or national council, approved a constitution for the Afghan people, which will set the stage for elections later in 2004.
Mr. Powell says that the U.S. “will stay the course in Afghanistan”:
“We will work with our friends. We thank NATO for taking on a new mission in Afghanistan, a unique mission for NATO. In Iraq, the challenge is clear. We are working very closely with the Governing Council. We have a good plan, the 15 November plan, that will result in the creation of a transitional executive branch as well as a transitional assembly, by the middle of the year.”
Elsewhere in the world, says Mr. Powell, the U.S is committed to expanding its Middle East Partnership Initiative, “to encourage political, economic, and educational reform throughout the region.” In the Americas, the U.S. is working with members of the Organization of American States and through the Inter-American Committee Against Terrorism to increase cooperation to combat terrorism, strengthen border and financial controls, and address threats to airports, ports, and cyber-security. And, says Secretary of State Powell, the U.S. is working “for the advent of a free Cuba, and toward democratic reforms in other countries whose people are denied liberty.”