During her recent visit to Afghanistan, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton attended the Kabul Conference along with representatives from more than 70 countries and organizations.
Progress is being made in the fight against the Taliban, said Secretary Clinton. Resources continue to flow into Afghanistan, including almost 10,000 new international troops for the International Security Assistance Force. Afghan security forces are being trained. And militants are being challenged in parts of Afghanistan where the insurgents have gone unchallenged for far too long.
The United States is laying the groundwork for a responsible and conditions-based transition to Afghan security leadership in July 2011. The start of this phase does not signal the end of U.S. involvement, however. "We have no intention of abandoning our long-term mission," said Secretary Clinton. The U.S. intends to continue its economic development assistance and support for training, equipping, and assisting the security forces of Afghanistan for a long time.
Secretary Clinton acknowledged that the Afghan government has taken steps to demonstrate greater accountability. Afghan President Hamid Karzai has created a new task force, new offices, and new legal tools to combat corruption. He also recently issued a decree prohibiting nepotism in government. But "there are no shortcuts to fighting and improving governance," said Secretary Clinton. "On this front, both the Afghan people and the people of the international community expect results."
Secretary Clinton stressed the importance of defending the rights of women, Afghan ethnic groups, and civil society. These groups must not be sacrificed in the pursuit of reintegration and reconciliation of the Taliban. The work of Afghan women and civil society groups will be essential to Afghanistan's success. "If these groups are fully empowered to help build a just and lasting peace," said Secretary Clinton, "they will help do so. But if they are silenced and pushed to the margins of Afghan society, the prospects for peace and justice will be subverted."
"The world is with Afghanistan," said Secretary Clinton, "and the world stands in opposition to the common threat" of Islamic extremism. "But we must not forget that not only are millions of Afghans working to lay the foundation for a better future," said Secretary Clinton, "but tens of thousands of young men and women from across the world are as well." Many are counting on success in Afghanistan.