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OFFICIALS MEET TO FURTHER IMPLEMENT THE US-AFGHAN STRATEGIC PARTNERSHIP
Embassy of Afghanistan

03/22/2006

WASHINGTON, D.C. - The first ministerial level meeting for the further implementation of the US-Afghan Strategic Partnership was held on March 20-21 in Washington, following the declaration by President Karzai and President Bush of a US-Afghan Strategic Partnership in May 2005. The Afghan delegation headed by Foreign Minister Dr. Abdullah and Ambassador Said Tayeb Jawad and senior US officials from the White House, Department of State, Department of Defense, Department of Commerce, Department of Treasury, Department of Justice, USAID, and the US Trade Representative discussed key provisions of the Partnership and the progress made in the areas of security, governance, and prosperity. The delegations established specific mechanisms to further enhance strategic partnership between the two countries.

The United States praised Afghanistan’s significant achievements. Both parties reiterated that the Afghan people have made tremendous sacrifices and shown great courage in the pursuit of freedom. The United States shares Afghanistan’s vision of a country that is democratic, at peace, and working to improve the lives of all Afghans and that plays an important and positive role in the affairs of the region and the world.

The United States reaffirmed its commitment to Afghanistan’s long-term security and both sides agreed to explore the establishment of a mechanism to deepen security cooperation between the two countries, including the establishment of a Defense Cooperation Forum. The US also affirmed its commitment to further building the operational capacity of the Afghan National Army and the Afghan National Police and providing them with quality equipment. The US supports Afghanistan’s participation in a bilaterally tailored program of “Peace for Partnership” with NATO to ensure long-term strategic partnership between Afghanistan, the NATO member states, and the United States. The US reaffirmed its military commitment to counterterrorism in the south and east of Afghanistan where ISAF would be fully deployed by the end of 2006.

In the governance area, the US committed to launching the Afghan Building Capacity (ABC) program to enhance institutional capacity at both the national and provincial level, including training trainers, increasing people-to-people educational and professional exchanges, and bolstering the management skills of officials and their capacity to improve the delivery of public services.

Both sides reaffirmed their commitment to reducing the production and trafficking of narcotics in Afghanistan. The Government of Afghanistan will continue widespread operations now underway to eradicate opium poppies and prosecute drug traffickers and those involved in narcotics trade, while the US will further provide alternative livelihood assistance to Afghan farmers.

The two delegations agreed on continuing efforts to improve trade and infrastructure links between Afghanistan and its neighbors as a crucial step in stimulating economic growth in the region both to support Afghanistan’s initiative to restore the country’s historic role as a land bridge connecting Central and South Asia and to foster cooperation between Afghanistan and its neighbors and deter meddling in Afghanistan’s internal affairs.

To assist with Afghanistan’s economic growth and create more jobs in the country, the US Administration will work with Congress for the establishment of Reconstruction Opportunity Zones in Afghanistan. This program will grant duty-free treatment to selected goods produced jointly in designated areas of Afghanistan. The US supports Afghanistan’s participation in the Central Asian Trade and Investment Framework Agreement in order to facilitate Afghanistan’s integration into regional and world economies and appropriate international organizations.

Moreover, to encourage the reconstruction of Afghanistan and investments in the people of Afghanistan and encourage other nations to do so, both delegations endorsed the next steps for the Businesses Building Bridges (BBB) initiative for strengthening the private sector in Afghanistan. This project will enlist top US business leaders who will provide strategic guidance on how to activate private sector development, as well as build partnership and mentoring links with Afghan entrepreneurs.

The next US-Afghan Strategic Partnership meeting will be held in Kabul later this year.

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