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Ambassador Jawad Speaks at the International Institute for Strategic Studies

Ambassador Said T. Jawad spoke in a closed policy briefing at the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) in Washington on June 23. Senior government officials, think tank researchers and private sector executives attended the meeting with Ambassador Jawad, who discussed a number of key challenges facing Afghanistan in the run up to the August 2009 presidential and provincial council elections.

Ambassador Jawad highlighted security as the main challenge faced by Afghanistan, and welcomed the deployment of additional U.S. forces. He also welcomed the change in the military leadership under General Stanley McChrystal and the new U.S./NATO commander's commitment to enforcing strict rules of engagement in order to prevent further civilian casualties in Afghanistan.

He noted that the training and equipping of the Afghan national security forces had been accelerated, further contributing to the effectiveness of military operations against the Taliban. In addition, Ambassador Jawad commented on regional efforts to help stabilize Afghanistan, and welcomed Pakistan's recent military operations in the Swat Valley. However, he stressed that more needed to be done to target the leadership and financing sources of the Taliban and Al Qaeda networks in Pakistan.

Moreover, Ambassador Jawad discussed the upcoming elections in Afghanistan and noted that 41 candidates had registered to campaign including President Hamid Karzai. However, he cautioned against senior foreign diplomats taking part in the news conferences or events of the presidential candidates unless they intended to support a free and fair process for all candidates.

On the interconnected problem of narcotics and corruption, Ambassador Jawad noted that prevention coupled with alternative assistance and law enforcement would be far more effective than an eradication-led strategy, which had been pursued until recently.

Ambassador Jawad welcomed renewed focus by the Obama administration on revitalizing Afghanistan's agriculture sector, and discussed Afghanistan's reconstruction achievements to date. He particularly noted a dramatic increase in the number of university students, 76,000, studying at some 15 universities across Afghanistan, compared to a few thousand students under the Taliban just seven years ago.

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