Welcome to our e-newsletter Vol. 62 February 2009  


President Karzai Discusses Terrorism Battle on CNN: President Hamid Karzai was interviewed on CNN's "GPS with Fareed Zakaria" on Sunday, February 15. During the interview, President Karzai spoke positively of President Barack Obama and argued for the need of more U.S. troops to combat terrorism and help build Afghan institutions. He also noted the importance of reducing civilian casualties in Afghanistan. MORE


Afghan Officials Discuss New Strategy with Obama Team: A delegation of senior Afghan officials visited Washington from February 23-27 for high-level meetings with senior officials in the Obama administration and discussions with their Pakistani counterparts. The meetings were part of a strategic review of U.S. policy towards the region and underlined a new spirit of cooperation between Afghanistan and Pakistan in the fight against terrorism. MORE

Development Minister Visits Washington: Afghanistan's Minister of Rural Rehabilitation and Development Mohammad Ehsan Zia visited Washington, D.C. from February 23-27 to a series of meetings with senior U.S. officials of the Obama administration and members of Congress. In his visit to Washington, Minister Zia offered the latest news of progress in rural development for Afghanistan while citing the challenges the country continues to face on its path to economic prosperity. MORE

Minister Zia, Political Counselor Haidari Travel to Brazil: Afghanistan's Minister of Rural Rehabilitation and Development, Mohammad Ehsan Zia, and Political Counselor M. Ashraf Haidari, who manages Afghanistan's non-resident diplomatic relations with Brazil, paid an official visit to Brasilia, Brazil during March 1-3. The bilateral meetings focused on a discussion of Afghanistan’s expanding relations with Brazil, and assessing areas of technical cooperation with the country. MORE

Afghanistan Expands Marble Industry: Hidden in the rugged mountains of the Hindu Kushand the Pamir, Afghan marble and stone is an emerging industry that can bring value to global investors, wealth to Afghan communities, and treasures to discerning world consumers. With 35 known types of marble in 40 different colors, Afghanistan is slowly expanding its marble industry as part of a larger effort to increase mining of various minerals throughout the country. MORE

'Hidden Treasures' Exhibit Opens in Houston: The acclaimed exhibit "Afghanistan: Hidden Treasures of the National Museum, Kabul" opened at the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston on March 1. It will remain there until May 17. The exhibit's 228 artifacts have marveled crowds across the U.S. over the last year, with over 315,000 people having seen them in Washington and San Francisco. It will close its 18-month tour of the U.S. in New York from June-September 2009. MORE


Legislative Update: Congress was active on a number of issues related to Afghanistan in February 2009. Various committees in the Senate and House of Representatives held hearing on U.S. policy towards Afghanistan, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi traveled to Kabul to meet with President Hamid Karzai, and legislation was introduced to fund Afghan assistance programs and protect Afghan nationals that have aided the U.S. effort in Afghanistan. MORE

School Year Kicks Off to Record Number of Students: The Afghan academic year kicked off on March 5, with an additional 1 million students slated to attend schools throughout Afghanistan. In a bell-ringing ceremony attended by President Hamid Karzai, Minister of Education Farouq Wardak announced that 7.2 million children would attend school in 2009 -- up from 6.2 million in 2008 -- and more than 2,000 additional schools had been built to house classes. MORE

Japan Contributes to Afghanistan's Rebuilding: Political Counselor M. Ashraf Haidari met his Japanese counterpart Koichi Nakagawa to discuss Japan's reconstruction assistance to Afghanistan on February 9. Haidari praised the strong ties between Afghanistan and Japan, and conveyed to Mr. Nakagawa the deep gratitude of the Afghan government and people for Japan’s firm commitment to the stabilization and reconstruction of Afghanistan. MORE


Political Counselor Haidari Speaks to Syracuse Students: Political Counselor M. Ashraf Haidari spoke to Syracuse University international affairs students at the Embassy on February 12. He discussed the current challenges to Afghanistan’s stabilization and reconstruction, as well as the way forward for the country and its nation-partners. Haidari reminded the students of the historical context of the present conflict in Afghanistan and elaborated on the series of events leading to the collapse of state institutions following the withdrawal of the former Soviet forces. MORE

History in Stone - The Untapped Riches of Afghanistan: Ann Marlowe writes in The Weekly Standard: "While most foreigners bemoan the loss of the Bamiyan buddhas, the surprising good news is that the losses due to the years of war will probably be dwarfed by the treasures still undiscovered. A handful of recent finds suggest that the best is yet to come." MORE

Afghan Women Slowly Gaining Protection: The New York Times reports: "Since the overthrow of the Taliban in 2001, a more egalitarian notion of women’s rights has begun to take hold, founded in the country’s new Constitution and promoted by the newly created Ministry of Women’s Affairs and a small community of women’s advocates. The problems they are confronting are deeply ingrained in a culture that has been mainly governed by tribal law. But they are changing the lives of young women." MORE

In Other News: Saffron Uproots Poppies on Farms in Afghanistan (San Francisco Chron.) ... Facing Language Gaps and 'Flying Trucks,' U.S. Trains Afghan Pilots (NYT) ... Afghanistan: A Treasure Trove for Archeologists (Time) ... Treasured Artifacts from Afghan Museum on Display (Houston Chron.) ... Afghans Brave Poor Security to Register to Vote (Reuters) ... U.S. Aid Effort in Afghanistan Requires Diverse Skills (McClatchy News) ... Perils of an Afghan Bus Journey (BBC) ... Afghan TV Set to Unveil Model Contest (Reuters). MORE

Embassy in the News: This month, Ambassador Said T. Jawad welcomed the deployment of 17,000 additional U.S. troops to Afghanistan, discussed the meeting between senior Afghan officials and the Obama administration to discuss a new strategy for Afghanistan and stressed the importance of not reducing expectations for what can be accomplished in Afghanistan. To read these and other articles and op-eds, please click Embassy in the News.

www.embassyofafghanistan.org

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