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Posts Tagged ‘Afghanistan’

Here is a reminder that 99+% of her job is not just international “Dancing with the Stars.” Her personnel serve in dangerous places … places she has never hesitated to visit herself.   That is the part of her job that somehow gets ignored in the media.  Condolences to the families of those who died serving.

Death of USAID Officer in Afghanistan

Press Statement

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Washington, DC
August 9, 2012

The United States strongly condemns the suicide attack yesterday in Kunar province, Afghanistan, that killed USAID Foreign Service Officer Ragaei Abdelfattah, three ISAF service members and an Afghan civilian, and injured a State Department Foreign Service officer. On behalf of President Obama and the American people, I have sent my deepest condolences to Ragaei’s family and to the entire U.S. Mission in Afghanistan.

Ragaei’s work over the last year was critical to our efforts to support Afghanistan’s political, economic, and security transitions and was an example of the highest standards of service. Over the last 15 months — partnering with local officials — he worked in eastern Afghanistan to help establish new schools and health clinics, and deliver electricity to the citizens of Nangarhar and Kunar provinces. Ragaei was so committed to our mission and to the people of Afghanistan that he volunteered to serve a second year.

With the work of people such as Ragaei, the civilian surge we launched in Afghanistan in 2009 has made a tremendous impact, strengthening the capacity of the Afghan Government and laying a foundation for long-term sustainable development. Though we are shocked and saddened by this loss and will miss Ragaei, our efforts will continue.

I send my thanks to our Diplomatic Security and military colleagues who work hard to ensure that our civilians in the field can get out each and every day to work side-by-side with our Afghan partners. Yesterday’s tragic incident is a reminder of our shared mission and shared sacrifice. It strengthens our resolve to continue working with the Afghan people to build their economy, democratic institutions, rule of law, and security so that Afghanistan can stand on its own as a stable, secure, and increasingly prosperous country.

I also want to send my appreciation today to all of my State Department and USAID colleagues around the world who work every day in challenging environments to advance U.S. interests and promote freedom and prosperity.

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Hillary Clinton had such a busy day in Japan on Sunday that last night I collected more than 100 pictures from her various events and then had to wait for the press releases to come through.  Most intriguing was a short series of pictures from an historical trilateral meeting with the foreign ministers of Pakistan, Hina Rabbani Khar,  and Afghanistan, Zalmai Rassoul.  As you know,  Hillary’s carefully worded apology to Pakistan this week finally permitted NATO land access once again at the border between the two countries –  a border that had been closed to NATO forces since November of last year.  What caught me about these pictures is her obvious delight in a trilateral agreement.  For our top diplomat agreement is what it is all about.  This particular agreement made history. What is amazing is that huge as this was, it was just one of many events in her busy day.  Here are the pictures.

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Here is their statement.

Joint Statement by U.S. Secretary of State Clinton, Afghanistan Foreign Minister Rassoul, and Pakistan Foreign Minister Khar at the First Ministerial-level Core Group Trilateral Meeting

Media Note

Office of the Spokesperson
Washington, DC
July 8, 2012

Capitalizing on the opportunity afforded by the Tokyo Conference – which represents the culmination of a period of intensive engagement between Afghanistan and the international community – we convened the first ministerial-level Core Group meeting today. We reaffirmed that the purpose of the Core Group is to enhance cooperation between Afghanistan, Pakistan, and the United States to support an Afghan peace and reconciliation process, and further affirmed that:

Afghanistan should be a peaceful, secure, stable, and prosperous nation living in a peaceful, secure, stable and prosperous region supported by enduring partnerships with the international community. Great effort and sacrifice by the people of Afghanistan, Pakistan, the United States and the international community has decimated al-Qaida’s core leadership in the region, reducing the threat to international peace and security that led the international community to intervene in Afghanistan in 2001. Afghanistan should never again be a safe-haven from which al-Qaida or other terrorist groups threaten international peace and security.

As agreed at Istanbul and Bonn in 2011, and reaffirmed at Chicago and Tokyo in 2012, the surest way to lasting peace and security for Afghanistan and the broader region is through an Afghan political process of peace and reconciliation for Afghanistan. This process should be supported by Afghanistan’s neighbors and by the international community.

After 30 years of war, all Afghans should be able to live together in peace. Only Afghans can determine how they live together, how the future of their country must be shaped, and how their country should relate to the region and beyond.

We are committed to work together to support an inclusive Afghan peace process through which individuals and groups break ties with international terrorism, renounce violence, and abide by Afghanistan’s constitution, including its protections for the rights of all Afghan women and men. As the international community reaffirmed at Bonn and again at Tokyo, these are the necessary outcomes of any negotiation.

Foreign Minister Rassoul welcomed Pakistan’s and the United States’ support for Afghan peace efforts, noting especially former Prime Minister Gilani’s February 2012 statement expressing Pakistan’s support for Afghan reconciliation and calling on the Afghan Taliban and related groups to participate in an intra-Afghan process for reconciliation and peace.

To build further momentum, we reaffirmed the importance of pursuing multiple channels and contacts with the armed opposition. Pakistan and Afghanistan committed to take full advantage of upcoming bilateral exchanges, including Pakistani Prime Minister Ashraf’s forthcoming visit to Kabul and High Peace Council Chairman Rabbani’s planned visit to Islamabad. These visits should determine and implement additional concrete steps to advance Afghan reconciliation. We also welcomed and encouraged additional progress on regional confidence-building through the Istanbul Process, since enhanced cooperation between Afghanistan and its neighbors on issues such as narcotics, refugees, and regional trade will help create an environment for long-term stability and prosperity.

We welcomed the broad international support for an Afghan peace process, reaffirmed here in Tokyo, and emphasized that the upcoming opening of the 67th session of the United Nations General Assembly provides additional opportunities to support and advance Afghan peace efforts.

We reiterate our call for the armed opposition to abandon violence and enter a dialogue with the Afghan government. We call on all parties to devote their energy to realizing this vision, respond in the same spirit, and commit to support an Afghan political process that will result in lasting peace, security, stability, and prosperity for Afghanistan and the region.

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Remarks at Afghan Civil Society Event

Remarks

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Prince Park Tower Hotel
Tokyo, Japan
July 8, 2012

Let me welcome this wonderful group of men and women from across Afghanistan who are here as part of the Tokyo Conference. We are very pleased that we have the benefit of your experience and your views, and I look forward to our conversation. I want to thank Ambassador Marc Grossman for helping to organize this meeting. Ambassador Grossman is our Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, and he has been very focused on making sure that the voices of the people are heard, not just the government. Because we know that any lasting peace, any economic development, the opportunities that we have been discussing here at the Tokyo Conference, are only possible if civil society is there to advocate for them.

I also am pleased that Ambassador Ryan Crocker could join us from Kabul. Thank you, Ambassador Crocker. Also with us is Ambassador Melanne Verveer, our Special Ambassador for Global Women’s Issues, and Don Steinberg, Deputy Administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development. And I am particularly looking forward to hearing from our two representatives of Afghan civil society, Samira and Hiyatula, in a few minutes.

I want to hear how you believe we can do more to work with you to support open and accountable governance, economic opportunities, and social equality and inclusion. And I want particularly to hear about the challenges that you see ahead. The United States is committed to helping the Afghan people and the civil society groups that you represent, among others, to work toward a secure, independent, and democratic future.

But as we transition to Afghan-led security across your country, we want to make it clear that being strong, sovereign, and independent does not mean being alone. We want to continue to stand with you. The Strategic Partnership Agreement that our President signed in Kabul in early May that is now fully in effect provides a long-term framework for our relationship, sending a clear signal that America’s support will endure. And it outlines the basis for our extensive cooperation over the next decade in fighting violent extremism, strengthening democratic institutions, and protecting human rights.

We have also been very clear – and we just finished a meeting between the Afghan Government and the Pakistani Government – about Afghan-led reconciliation, that it can only happen with groups and individuals who sever ties to al-Qaida, renounce violence, and pledge to abide by the Afghan constitution, including its protections for women and minorities. Reconciliation cannot, must not, come at the expense of the gains you have made in the last 10 years. So we want to be sure your voices are heard. We want to stand up for your rights and we want to condemn extremism and any kind of abuses that affect people and particularly women in Afghanistan.

We also want to support a free press and journalists who hold governments accountable, report the facts about what is happening, and exchange ideas so that better decisions can be made. We also wish to support constitutional and transparent parliamentary and presidential elections. And for us, when we talk about Afghan-led, we don’t mean just the government. We mean the Afghan people.

So with that, let me ask you, please, to translate before we come and hear from our representatives, and then turn it over to all of you.

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Intervention at the Tokyo Conference on Afghanistan

Remarks

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Prince Park Tower Hotel
Tokyo, Japan
July 8, 2012

Thank you, Foreign Minister Gemba. We also thank Prime Minister Noda, Madam Ogata, and the Japanese Government not only for welcoming us here but for the great generosity and leadership Japan continues to show in helping Afghanistan move forward into the transformation decade. We also recognize Secretary General Ban, President Karzai, our Afghan Co-chairs Foreign Minister Rassoul and Finance Minister Zakhilwal, along with representatives of Afghanistan’s civil society who are here, because after all, what we are talking about is the future of the men, women, and children of Afghanistan. And I am delighted they are part of this conference.

I also want to commend all who have produced the three principles of the document, starting with the Afghanistan strategic vision for the transformation decade called Towards Self-Reliance. I really compliment our Afghan friends for an excellent job. And then the Tokyo Declaration and the Tokyo Mutual Accountability Framework are translating our goals and our commitments into a path that we can follow together and help hold each other accountable.

This conference represents the culmination of nearly two years of intensive work. Beginning in 2010 in Lisbon, continuing in Istanbul last fall, Bonn in December, Chicago in May, and Kabul just a few weeks ago, Afghanistan and the international partners have charted a responsible end to the war and the transfer of full responsibility for security back to Afghanistan.

Together, we have made pledges to meet the needs of the Afghan National Security Forces. Like a number of countries represented here, the United States and Afghanistan signed a Strategic Partnership Agreement that went into effect four days ago. And I was pleased to meet with President Karzai in Kabul yesterday morning, where I announced that Afghanistan is now officially designated a major non-NATO ally of the United States. As President Karzai said, we have to make the security gains and the transition irreversible, and the United States is committed to this enduring partnership.

Now, here in Tokyo we are focused on the economic development and governance advances that we hope to make together. Because we know Afghanistan’s security cannot only be measured by the absence of war; it has to be measured by whether people have jobs and economic opportunity, whether they believe their government is serving their needs, whether political reconciliation proceeds and succeeds.

And Afghanistan has made substantial progress with the help of the international community, as Madame Ogata and others have already outlined. But now we have to ensure the strongest possible collaboration among four groups so that this decade of transformation can produce results: the Afghan Government and people, first and foremost; the international community; Afghanistan’s neighbors; and the private sector. This collaboration depends on mutual accountability, and all sides have work to do and responsibilities to uphold.

As President Obama has said, as Afghanistan stands up, it will not stand alone. Let me speak briefly about each group’s role.

Obviously, the future of Afghanistan belongs to its government and its people. And I welcome the clear vision presented by President Karzai and the Afghan Government today for unlocking Afghanistan’s economic potential by achieving a stable democratic future. That must include fighting corruption, improving governance, strengthening the rule of law, increasing access to economic opportunity for all Afghans, especially for women.

On this point, let me emphasize that the United States believes strongly that no nation can achieve sustainable peace, reconciliation, stability, and economic growth if half the population is not empowered. All citizens need to have the chance to benefit from and contribute to Afghanistan’s progress, and the United States will continue to stand strongly by the women of Afghanistan.

President Karzai has made a strong public commitment to stamping out corruption, implementing key reforms, and building Afghanistan’s institutions. We will support him and the government in that endeavor to enable Afghanistan to move toward self-reliance and away from dependence on donor assistance.

As Afghans do their part, the international community must do ours, by making concrete pledges of economic support to ensure that Afghanistan meets its fiscal needs in the critical post-transition period.

I am very pleased that Prime Minister Noda has confirmed that $16 billion is available from the international community through 2015. This is sustained economic support that will help Afghanistan meet its fiscal needs even as assistance declines. The United States will request from our Congress assistance for Afghanistan at or near the levels of the past decade through the year 2017. And our assistance will create incentives to help the Afghan Government meet mutually agreed reform goals.

In addition to the international community, Afghanistan’s neighbors have an especially key role to play. I’ve spoken before of the vision of a New Silk Road in which Afghanistan is firmly embedded in the economic life of a thriving South and Central Asia. Nothing offers a more credible alternative to insurgency than the jobs and opportunities that come with foreign investment and the expansion of markets. Increasing regional trade will open up new sources of raw materials, energy, and agricultural products—not just for Afghanistan but for all nations in the region. And we are delighted to see this vision coming to light through the Istanbul Process and various regional trade and transit agreements.

The last essential ingredient to a successful economic transition and transformation is the private sector, because that will be key for driving growth, creating jobs, and supporting the kind of reform that needs to be sustainable. We look to the Afghan Government to follow through on their reform commitments, and we look to the international community to do what we can to draw business and investment to Afghanistan. Last month in new Delhi, in anticipation of today’s conference, hundreds of companies attended an investment summit.

So the key pieces are there. The private sector interest is there. The Afghan Government’s commitment to fight corruption and strengthen the rule of law is there. The international community’s support, as evidenced by this conference, is there as well. And the growing partnership between Afghanistan and its neighbors is also growing.

We need to put those commitments together in order to achieve the future that is worthy of the sacrifice of the Afghan people and many nations represented around this table. The future has got to be what the Afghan people have forged for themselves, and we need to make sure that we do everything to make that a reality.

Thank you very much. (Applause.)

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Meeting with Embassy Staff in Kabul

Remarks

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
U.S. Embassy Atrium
Kabul, Afghanistan
July 7, 2012

Well, thank you all. And it is great to see you early in the morning here. I am delighted that I was able to come by and eyeball all of you and thank you, once again, for your service.

I am also very pleased to thank Ambassador Crocker for his service to this mission, his sixth ambassadorship in a distinguished career. And it is certainly to all of our benefit that we persuaded him to come out of retirement and come to Kabul to assume this post. He has deep affection, as you know, for Afghanistan, having hitch-hiked through the country when he was a much younger man. And he was telling me today on the ride from the airport to the embassy that he would hitch-hike around Afghanistan in 1970. And when drivers would pick him up it wouldn’t be just for a ride, it would be for lunch, for dinner, to spend the night, to get to know the people. And so he came back with great affection.

Like me, he is a long-suffering Chicago Cubs fan. (Laughter.) Yes, I know, I know. And he and I sat through yet another loss at Wrigley Field, along with General Allen. We tried to put a good face on it. But I think if you are masochistic enough to be a Cubs fan, you are drawn to assignments like this, and what I do for everyday, and the like. And I want to thank you, Ryan, for your leadership and your vision. We will miss you when you try to retire again in a few weeks. But we will certainly build on your progress.

And I want to thank Ambassador Cunningham and the entire team here who have done such a great job. And it is wonderful to see General Allen again. General Allen threw out the first pitch at Wrigley Field. I don’t know if you have seen it on YouTube, but it is pretty good. He did a lot of practicing for that, I am told.

I want to thank you all for everything each of you has done. This is a whole-of-government effort. The entire United States Government, in addition to all of our great Afghan team members, have really helped to lay the transition and the progress that we know Afghanistan will make in the decade ahead. We are calling it the Decade of Transformation, because we think we have laid a very strong foundation. The strategic partnership agreement that we signed will guide the enduring partnership between the United States and Afghanistan.

I am going to be announcing formally with President Karzai in just a little bit that President Obama has officially designated Afghanistan as what is called a Major Non-NATO Ally of the United States. There is a very small number of countries that fit into that category. The international community has made concrete commitments to fund the Afghan national security forces. And tomorrow in Tokyo I will be representing the United States at a conference to talk about what we will commit to the civilian side of the equation for Afghanistan’s economic development and further progress in governance.

Today, the responsibility for Afghanistan’s future rests squarely where it belongs, with the Afghan people themselves. They alone can make the hard choices and the reforms needed to foster peace and stability, unity, and progress. But we can help them as they do that. And each of you is here because you are a believer in this country’s future. None of us has any illusions about how hard the road ahead will be. After 2 attacks on the embassy in 12 months, you know the dangers that come with this job. And you know the challenges, as well. But you also know the rewards and the satisfaction that accrue to those who are working hand in hand with the people of Afghanistan.

We like to say that our strategy is fight, talk, build. Well, what does that mean? That means that military professionals, diplomats, development experts, everyone working together in a professional, highly-integrated way. Anything short of that just isn’t good enough. And it is hard to do. It is hard to get everybody on that one team for that one fight. But I think this embassy has succeeded brilliantly. At the start of this Administration we laid out the strategic mission: to surge our military and civilian efforts simultaneously and in a coordinated manner. And you have really executed that. And I know it has been at some sacrifice, leaving behind family and friends, working 14, 18, 20-hour days, living in shipping containers, all because you know how much is at stake for the people of this country and for the American people.

Look, I am aware that there are naysayers and cynics who are quick to criticize what we do here. And, unfortunately, the steady progress that you are making doesn’t grab the headlines. I am kind of an expert on that. (Laughter.) And I want you to know that a lot of people who count know what you do every single day. Anyone who saw Ambassador Crocker’s op ed piece in the Washington Post yesterday knows how valuable you are. And I am proud to share stories of your success everywhere I go.

Look what happened just a few days ago, on July 4th, as we celebrated our own independence. Several tankers exploded at the oil and gas depot here in Kabul. And ISAF forces responded with firefighters and medics. The Afghan Minister of Health reached out to our USAID team to help more than 80 injured people. You responded instantly and expertly. And, because of that, you saved lives and sent yet again a clear message about our commitment to the Afghan people and their futures.

Or look at the women of Helmand who, thanks to you, have learned to organize and advocate on their own behalf. One of our foreign service officers started a dialogue that, over time, grew to include women from throughout the province. They talked about peace-building, reintegration, and how to ensure that their daughters and their sons receive a good education. First they shared their concerns with each other, then with the governor of Helmand Province. They successfully pushed for action for stalled projects. They realized their own power to bring about peaceful change that will benefit them and their families. And those women understand how important your work is.

Ten years ago, Afghanistan did not have a single paved street that wasn’t severely damaged. You have helped build roads all over the country that foster connections to new markets. When problems with insurance policies threaten to stop all international flights in and out of Kabul Airport earlier this year, American experts from the Department of Transportation helped the Afghan Government find a solution to keep those commercial flights going. Every person who was able to fly in and out of Afghanistan knows how important your work is.

Our development experts are working outside the wire to help Afghan farmers replace their poppy fields with high-value crops. One farmer recently showed off new fields of grapes and explained how he had already made a profit, much sooner than he had ever expected. Now he has enough money to build his first home. And that farmer and his family know how important your work is.

In eastern Afghanistan we have trained instructors and begun facilitating a program to teach 200 madrasas high school students, half of them women, basic computer and Internet skills. Those students and every Afghan benefiting from our scholarships, our exchanges, our training programs, knows how important your work is.

And I am well aware that some of you have put your lives on the line. When I was here in 2009 I gave the Department of State Award for Heroism to a foreign service officer named Matt Sherman. Matt was on a mission with military colleagues when the lead convoy vehicle struck an IED and flipped. And Matt didn’t hesitate; he raced out from the safety of his own vehicle to help the wounded U.S. soldiers. That is the kind of everyday heroism that we see among our embassy staff.

I also want, in particular, to recognize all of our Afghan team members. They risk their lives every day to make their country a better place. And let me mention just one person out of all who are here: Taj. Where is Taj? Taj. (Applause.) Taj has worked for the United States Government for more than 23 years. And when the Taliban fell in 2001, he was our first foreign service national to come back and help reopen the embassy. And today he organizes speaker programs for imams to discuss religious tolerance and women’s rights under the Qu’ran, countering extremist voices. He has faced threats, but he has never failed to keep pressing on. And I want to thank you, Taj, for your dedication to your country and your work. (Applause.)

Now, each of you — we could spend all day hearing each of your stories. Some of you bring potable water for drinking to urban neighborhoods or vaccines to rural communities. Some of you help victims of human trafficking find legal aid and counseling. Some of you work to hammer out agreements that are critical to our future relationship. But no matter which of the 18 U.S. Government departments or agencies you represent, whether you are foreign service or civil service or local Afghan staff, you are all part of the success of this mission here.

We ask a lot of you. I think it is fair to say that nowhere in the world do we face tougher problems, or encounter more unforeseen challenges. To walk a mile in your shoes or to sleep a night in your can takes strength and resolve. I have slept in those cans, and I am aware that this mission is filled with people who wake up every day clear-eyed about the task ahead, but asking, “What can I do today to make a difference,” and you have. You have made a difference.

So, on behalf of President Obama and the American people and certainly myself and our entire team in Washington, I want to thank you for all of your work. I am very, very proud to be your colleague and to work alongside you as we help the people of Afghanistan build their own future, and by doing so, help our own country have the kind of future and the kind of world that we want to see happen. It is a great personal honor to serve with you. You make me proud. Thank you all very much. (Applause.)

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We see Mme. Secretary greeting the troops on a surprise visit to Kabul prior to her departure for the Afghanistan Donors Conference in Tokyo.  Traveling with her is Ryan Crocker, U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan.  Godspeed Mme. Secretary!

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Remarks With Afghan President Hamid Karzai

Remarks

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Presidential Palace
Kabul, Afghanistan
July 7, 2012

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton speaks during a joint press conference with Afghan President Hamid Karzai, not pictured, at the Presidential Palace in Kabul, Afghanistan, Saturday, July 7, 2012. Clinton announced that President Barack Obama had designated Afghanistan as a “major non-NATO ally” shortly after arriving in the country for talks with Karzai. (AP Photo/Ahmad Jamshid)


SECRETARY CLINTON: (In progress) – much, Mr. President. It’s wonderful being back in Afghanistan and to hear the birds, who are singing about the beautiful day here in Kabul. And I thank you so much for hosting me today and for your leadership and your vision for the future of your country and your people. It is certainly worth thinking for a moment about all of the positive changes that have been made and what we are doing to set the foundation for the future.

The security situation is more stable. The Afghan National Security Forces are improving their capacity to protect the Afghan people. They are in the process of taking the lead in more than 75 percent of the population’s living areas in order to provide security. And at the NATO Summit in Chicago, the international community made pledges to assist the continuing growth and development of the security forces.

But meanwhile, the Government of Afghanistan has signed partnership agreements with many countries, and we are very pleased that the United States is among those. We have worked together to set forth a long-term political, diplomatic, and security partnership, and it entered into force just a few days ago.

And I am pleased to announce today that President Obama has officially designated Afghanistan as a major non-NATO ally of the United States. We see this as a powerful symbol of our commitment to Afghanistan’s future. And later this year, I’m looking forward to convening, along with Foreign Minister Rassoul, the new U.S.-Afghanistan bilateral commission to intensify our cooperation.

Our Strategic Partnership Agreement is not aimed at any other country. Our goal is to work with the region and the international community to strengthen Afghanistan’s institutions so that the transition is successful and the Afghan people themselves can take responsibility. And the future of Afghanistan will be safer and more secure so that little boys and little girls can grow up in peace and stability and enjoy a better opportunity. And we will also make sure together that it is no longer a safe haven for al-Qaida or any other international terrorists who threaten Afghanistan, the region, the United States, in fact, the world.

When I think about the progress that’s been made, the new schools that have been built, the improvements in healthcare, the legal protections for Afghan citizens, I think there is much for the Afghan people to be very pleased about because it is your efforts that have brought about these changes. And we want to continue to invest in doing what you believe you need. That’s why it’ll be important to go to Tokyo together to discuss the next stages for investment in what’s being called the transformation decade. We will continue, of course, to protect Afghanistan from any efforts by insurgents and outsiders to destabilize Afghanistan. And we were struck by the recent call from Pakistan’s parliament that Pakistani territory shall not be used for any kind of attacks on other countries. And all foreign fighters, if found, shall be expelled from Pakistani soil. So we want to deepen our security cooperation with Pakistan.

And we also remain committed to Afghan reconciliation. I have supported President Karzai in his effort to have an Afghan-owned, Afghan-led reconciliation process. We see positive signs. To quote High Peace Council head Dr. Rabbani, “a positive shift.” And I’m pleased that in Tokyo, we will have a core meeting of Afghanistan, Pakistan, and the United States at the ministerial level.

So there is much to do to continue working and building together. Obviously, we know Afghanistan has an agenda ahead of itself to make key economic reforms, to fight corruption, to strengthen the rule of law, to attract more trade and investment. And I want to commend President Karzai for his strong public pledges to stamp out corruption and build institutions that will be critical for Afghanistan’s future. And Mr. President, you will always have our support in your efforts. So we’re very excited about what is possible, and we are certainly aware of all of the difficulties that lie ahead. But we want to see Afghanistan be the center of a region of greater communication between countries and people, more trade and investment, a kind of New Silk Road that will bring more economic opportunity not only to Afghanistan, but to the entire region.

So my message today is very simple: The transition is on track, Afghanistan is standing up for itself, of course it will need support, and we are pledged to continue our support and to work with you to get more international support, and I’m quite excited about what lies ahead in Tokyo. But please know that the United States will be your friend and your partner. We are not even imagining abandoning Afghanistan; quite the opposite. We are building a partnership with Afghanistan that will endure far into the future.

Thank you so much, Mr. President.

PRESIDENT KARZAI: Thank you, Madam Secretary. Welcome. Should we take (inaudible)?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Oh, sure. All right. I think that’s good.

PRESIDENT KARZAI: Ma’am?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Oh. Arshad.

QUESTION: Secretary Clinton, unfortunately Afghanistan, by many independent metrics, remains one of the more – one of the countries most afflicted by corruption in the world. What assurances do you have that the new aid that will be pledged in Tokyo will not simply be eaten away by fraud or mismanagement? And what, in practical terms – can you explain to us in simple, practical terms what Afghanistan being designated to us as a major non-NATO ally means?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well first, we know that corruption is a major challenge in many countries around the world, and it’s something that governments and people have to continue to fight because it undermines progress. And we’re working hard with our Afghan partners to address this problem here in Afghanistan, knowing that it’s much broader than Afghanistan by promoting greater transparency, the rule of law, good governance, working hard to prevent fraud, waste, and abuse. We’re working with the Afghanistan ministries, governors, local leaders who are committed to delivering services to their people, improving their lives. We take seriously any allegations of corruption that involve U.S. funds. And we are working with the United Nations to support the steps that they have said they would take to address the concerns raised by donors about allegations of mismanagement of the Law and Order Trust Fund.

And in the meeting in Tokyo, we’re going to discuss the kind of mutual accountability that I think the President addressed in his speech just a short while ago. President Karzai has expressed Afghanistan’s intention to take further steps to be effective in the fight against corruption, to further reform government institutions, increase efficiency, transportation, accountability, and we fully support these efforts, which is why we included as part of our Strategic Partnership Agreement cooperation on anticorruption initiatives. So we’re well aware of it, but this is an issue that the government and the people of Afghanistan want action on, and we want to help them be successful. And we intend to be working with them as they move on reforms as well.

Regarding the major non-NATO ally, there are a number of benefits that accrue to countries that have this designation. They’re able to have access to excess defense supplies, for example. They can be part of certain kinds of training and capacity building. I will leave it to our military colleagues to explain in greater length to anyone who’s interested. But this is the kind of relationship that we think will be especially beneficial as we do the transition and as we plan for the post-2014 presence, because it will open the door to Afghanistan’s military to have a greater capacity and a broader kind of relationship with the United States, and particularly the United States military.

QUESTION: (In Arabic.)

SECRETARY CLINTON: We are joining with the international community under the leadership of the Government of Japan to make a pledge that altogether will meet the needs that Afghanistan has laid out, and that the World Bank has also analyzed. I don’t want to jump the gun on the Tokyo conference because it’s really up to the Japanese who have put all the work into this conference to make any formal announcements, but I’m encouraged by what I’m hearing, because of course, the United States will be making a substantial commitment in line with what we have been providing in the past. We want to continue at that – at or near that level. And then other countries are coming in at the same or near levels, and some countries are coming in with new pledges. But I think we have to wait till we get to Tokyo because I think it’s only appropriate that Japan gets to make the announcements.

PRESIDENT KARZAI: Can we take one more question from (inaudible)?

SECRETARY CLINTON: I think we’re —

PRESIDENT KARZAI: About to leave? I guess we have to leave.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Yes, we have to go to Tokyo. (Laughter.)

PRESIDENT KARZAI: Thank you, especially, for —

SECRETARY CLINTON: I wish we didn’t have to leave, Mr. President.

PRESIDENT KARZAI: Well —

SECRETARY CLINTON: So magnificent.

PRESIDENT KARZAI: There’s a saying in Farsi, (inaudible) – when a friend is around, we’ll be here again.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Oh, thank you. Thank you.

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