Welcome to our e-newsletter Vol. 39 February 2007  


President Karzai Meets US Vice President and NATO Chief : On February 26, President Hamid Karzai met with U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney at the Gul Khana Palace in Kabul. President Hamid Karzai and Vice President Cheney discussed the fight against terrorism, security in Afghanistan and regional cooperation in fighting terrorism and extremism. Vice President Cheney expressed satisfaction at the achievements Afghanistan has made during the past five years and said, "The United States of America will continue its assistance to Afghanistan in the fight against terrorism, strengthening security and reconstruction of the country." MORE


Foreign Minister Spanta Attends Donor Summit in Berlin : Foreign Minister Dr. Rangeen Dadfar Spanta joined delegates to the Joint Coordination and Monitoring Board (JCMB) on January 30 as they committed to a more aggressive and cooperative reconstruction effort. The high-level meeting of Afghanistan and its international partners was hosted by G8 leader Germany, and was designed to build on a conference in London last year when the international community launched the Afghanistan Compact, a five-year plan coordinating financial and military support to Afghanistan. MORE
President Bush Reaffirms Strong Commitment to Afghanistan : On February 15 at a speech hosted by the American Enterprise Institute, U.S. President George Bush reaffirmed America’s commitment to rebuilding Afghanistan and seeking unconditional victory in the war on terrorism. He stressed that the United States was dedicated to ensuring that the Afghan people will not return to the tyranny of the past and that Afghanistan’s state will continue to serve as a beacon of democracy. MORE

Ambassador Said T. Jawad Travels to Afghanistan : Ambassador Said T. Jawad returned from his regular consultation visit to Kabul with a renewed optimism with the situation in Afghanistan. While in Kabul, Ambassador Jawad met with President Hamid Karzai, Vice President Mohammad K. Khalili, Minster of Foreign Affairs Dr. Rangeen Dadfar Spanta, and Minister of Finance Dr. Anwar-ul-Haq Ahadi. The Ambassador’s meeting with President Karzai focused around three main issues: the security situation in the South, counter-narcotics programs, and increasing the capacity of the Afghan government to provide and deliver services to their people. MORE

Britain and Italy Pledge Their Support to Afghanistan: President Hamid Karzai traveled to England and Italy last week for meetings with both heads of state. He arrived in Britain’s Downing Street on February 14 for meetings with Prime Minister Tony Blair. Following discussions of the security and counter-narcotics efforts throughout Afghanistan, Prime Minister Blair pledged to "see the job through" in Afghanistan and insisted that incredible progress has already been made. MORE

OP ED: "The Taliban in Pakistan" in the Wall Street Journal: Pakistan's recent proposal to fence and lay landmines along its 1,500-mile Afghanistan border is impractical, ineffective and irrelevant to the problem of terrorism and the Taliban. Terrorism will be contained only if we end the institutional support for extremism and strengthen traditional leadership in our region. On Jan. 11, National Intelligence Director John Negroponte testified before the Senate Intelligence Committee. He identified Pakistan as "a major source of Islamic extremism" and said that al Qaeda leaders enjoy a "secure hideout" in Pakistan... MORE

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi Meets with President Karzai: A Congressional delegation including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi met President Hamid Karzai on January 28 during a short fact-finding tour of Afghanistan focused on efforts to defeat the Taliban. In conversation with Speaker Pelosi, the President explained that security forces need to be stronger as the two discussed possible American troop increases. The President stressed his desire for increased training and equipment for Afghanistan's army and police forces. MORE

Ambassador Jawad Speaks to Military Families at Fairchild Air Base: Ambassador Jawad traveled to Washington State on March 1 to meet with the spouses and children of deployed airmen currently serving in Afghanistan as part of Operation Enduring Freedom. He met with a small group of military family members to express his appreciation and the gratitude of the Afghan people for the incredible sacrifices they have made to defend freedom across the world. MORE

The Circus Comes to Afghanistan: A majestic art form has rolled into Afghanistan: the circus. According to the aid group Oxfam, more than half of Afghanistan’s 12 million youth still do not attend school. Now is an integral time to invest in educating Afghanistan’s children and innovative ideas like a circus-themed school could be just what they need. David Mason, 42, moved to Kabul and founded the Mobile Mini Circus for Children in June 2002, a couple of months after the fall of the Taliban. “The circus makes children enjoy life,” said Mason.  MORE

First Secretary Haidari Speaks at Syracuse University: First Secretary M. Ashraf Haidari addressed students and faculty at the Syracuse University College of Law Institute for National Security and Counter-Terrorism on February 15, 2007. He discussed “Security and Development in Afghanistan: Challenges and Opportunities.”  MORE

Afghanistan Economic Working Group Links U.S. and Afghan Partners: In February the Embassy of Afghanistan created the Afghanistan Economic Working Group (AEWG) with the aim of guiding economic program initiatives and raising awareness of each U.S. government entity’s role in fostering commerce and economic growth in Afghanistan. The AEWG is composed of representatives from relevant U.S. government departments responsible for economic development policies and programs for Afghanistan and the Embassy’s Economic, Trade and Investment Department. MORE

Ambassador Jawad Meets the Afghan Community in Los Angeles: Ambassador Said T. Jawad visited Los Angeles, California on February 23 to deliver the key note address at the Afghanistan Relief Organization (ARO) annual fundraiser. The event, entitled “Peace Trough Education,” was attended by over 500 members of the Afghan community. All funds from the evening will be donated to vocational schools in rural parts of Afghanistan MORE


OP ED: "Nation-Building or Nation-Neglecting" in the San Francisco Chronicle:  Now is the time to finish the job we began in Afghanistan five years ago. Last year saw a desperate and vicious onslaught by a new generation of Taliban forces with enhanced logistical and financial support. More than 4,000 Afghans, many of them civilians, were killed in military actions in 2006, a three-fold increase from the previous year. Suicide attacks -- a phenomenon unknown to Afghans before 2002 -- jumped to 118 from 21. As our intelligence capabilities improve, we are finding and arresting more boys who arrive in Afghanistan fresh from ideological brainwashing... MORE

Microfinance Makes a World of Difference in Afghanistan: One of the greatest, although lesser known, success stories in Afghanistan is the rebuilding of the country’s financial institutions. In the last 30 years, Afghanistan has suffered through intermittent warfare, drought, and a lack of international investment. As a result, poverty is widespread and deeply entrenched, and 70% of Afghans live on less than 2 USD a day. MORE


Marriott Hotel Coming to Kabul :  Afghanistan will soon welcome Marriott Hotels to its growing list of international business partners. Marriott intends to provide the best accommodations for foreign investors and Afghan nationals with a full range of facilities and services, such as a business center, a 1,000 person capacity ball room, seminar and meeting facilities, and an outstanding health facility. MORE

Afghan Version of American Idol Creates a New Superstar: Najibullah Mahmoodi will always remember the night of Feb. 6, 2007, the night he became the new Afghan Star. Narrowly beating runner up Surosh Nawa Mahmoodi, Najibullah is the winner of the second season of the nation’s popular talent competition, Afghan Star, broadcasted on TOLO TV. MORE


Media in Afghanistan: Past Challenges and Present Achievements:   First Secretary M. Ashraf Haidari visited Syracuse University on February 15 and gave a talk on “Media in Afghanistan: Past Challenges and Present Achievements” at the University’s Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs. To highlight Afghanistan’s post-9/11 achievements in the freedom of press and expression, Haidari discussed obstacles to these freedoms during 1980s and 1990s. MORE

Ariana–Boeing Deal Sealed: Flights Commenced: Ariana Afghan Airlines, the country’s flag carrier, recently launched flights from Riyadh and Jeddah, Saudi Arabia to Kabul in January after receiving a Boeing 757-200 aircraft the airline (leased from Boeing Capital Corporation). Ariana also announced that it will soon start flying to major European cities including Paris, London and Frankfurt MORE


Embassy Participates in Suffolk University Panel on Transitional Justice: First Secretary M. Ashraf Haidari joined an academic panel discussion on “Transitional Justice: The Rule of Law in Afghanistan” at the Suffolk University Law School in Boston, Massachusetts on February 8. Secretary Haidari discussed in detail the formation of modern nation-state in Afghanistan and the establishment of the formal justice sector as a key component of the country’s early state-building process.MORE

WHO, UNICEF campaign to eradicate measles in Afghanistan: The second phase of UNICEF and WHO’s Global Plan for Reducing Measles Mortality campaign is planned to resume on February 18 in Afghanistan. In May 2007, the rest of the provinces in the North, Northeast and Central areas of Afghanistan will participate in the third phase of the campaign. MORE

Radio Programs Empower Women in Afghanistan :   Rachel Ellison, the creator of a BBC radio show aimed at giving support and advice to women in Afghanistan has been awarded the prestigious Most Excellent Order of the British Empire. The Afghan Women's Hour was honored for promoting human rights and female empowerment in its mission to “celebrate, inform and entertain women”.  MORE

Roots of Peace Celebrates Ten Years of Planting Peace: The Embassy of Afghanistan hosted a prestigious reception to celebrate the 10th anniversary of Roots of Peace on February 27. Roots of Peace is a humanitarian organization dedicated to eradicating landmines worldwide, restoring dignity to the victims of landmines, and rehabilitating minefields into prosperous farmland. The reception featured a feast of Afghan cuisine and was attended by numerous foreign dignitaries, Administration officials and Washington insiders.  MORE

Legislative Update: At this crucial moment in time, the Embassy of Afghanistan is actively engaging the U.S. Congress to provide the resources and commitment necessary to successfully rebuild Afghanistan. As part of these efforts, we will provide regular updates on meetings with key U.S. Representatives and Senators and legislation pertinent to Afghanistan and the region. MORE

Embassy in the News: This month, Ambassador Jawad published an Op Ed in the Wall Street Journal entitled, “The Taliban in Pakistan.” He and Embassy Officials were interviewed by a variety of media outlets, including the Wall Street Journal, Washington Times, the Associated Press, the Daily Orange, Voice of America, TownHall.com, and the Anniston Daily Star. First Secretary Ashraf Haidari published an Op Ed in the San Francisco Chronicle entitled, “Nation-Building or Nation-Neglecting.” To read or watch these interviews, please click Embassy in the News.


Investment News: This month, numerous publications covered business and investment opportunities in Afghanistan. The Washington Times, HFN Magazine and Voice of America reported on Afghanistan’s rug sector, and Forbes Magazine spotlighted Kam Airlines. Also, New Tender Opportunities for Afghan Minerals were announced, along with new agricultural exports, a partnership with Marriott Hotels, and a business agreement between Ariana Airlines and Boeing. To read these articles, please click Investment News

Embassy Events: In the month of February, the Embassy of Afghanistan joined Roots of Peace in celebration of their tenth anniversary. To view photographs from and read about Embassy events, please click on Embassy Events

www.embassyofafghanistan.org

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