Welcome to our e-newsletter Vol. 40 March 2007  

As Spring Blooms, Record Number of Afghan Children Begin First Day of School: More than six million children in Afghanistan are heading back to school this week. According to UNICEF Afghanistan Chief of Education David McLoughlin, 6,080,260 children will begin school on the traditional date of the first day of Spring. 40% of Afghan children now attending school are girls, up from 3% in 2001. In 2002 alone, three million Afghan children returned to school after years of war. Over 3,200 schools have been built or refurbished, over 50 million textbooks have been published and over 50,000 teachers have been trained. MORE

President Karzai Meets with Chancellor Merkel and Receives Award in Germany: On March 17, President Hamid Karzai left for Bochum, Germany, commencing a state visit to Germany and France. Upon his arrival in Bochum, President Hamid Karzai attended an official ceremony where he was presented the International Der Steiger Riser Award. The International Der Steiger Riser Award is given for extraordinary commitment and outstanding achievements in creating a better world, and was awarded to President Karzai to honor his extraordinary leadership in promoting a culture of tolerance. MORE
Afghans Celebrate New Year : On March 21 the traditional Norouz New Year festival was celebrated in Kabul and other parts of Afghanistan. Offices and shops remained closed in Kabul and other big cities for the official holiday that inaugurated the year 1386. In Kabul, a ceremony at Ghazi Stadium was started with the recitation of few verses from the Holy Koran, following which messages from King Zaher Shah and President Hamid Karzai were read out. MORE

Afghan and U.S. Officials Conclude Strategic Partnership Talks: On March 13, American and Afghan delegations concluded the second round of the U.S. – Afghan Strategic Partnership talks in Kabul at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Representing the U.S. government were a team of officials lead by Undersecretary of Defense Eric Edelman, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Richard Boucher and U.S. Ambassador Ronald Neumann. On the Afghan side, chairs included Minister of Defense Abdul Rahim Wardak and Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Kabir Farrahi. They were joined by Minister of Finance Dr. Anwar- ul- Haq Ahadi, Minister of Justice Sarwar Danish, Minister of Economy Mohammed Jalil Shams and the head of Afghanistan’s National Security Council Zalmai Rassoul. MORE

Afghanistan Celebrates International Women's Day : On March 8, nations all over the world united to celebrate International Women’s Day. Afghan women joined with women on all continents to celebrate the ongoing struggle for gender equality, justice, peace and development. The United Nations first marked International Women’s Day in 1975, during the International Year for Women, and it is now celebrated across the world to recognize the achievements of women and provide an opportunity to unite and foster meaningful change. The theme for this year is ending impunity for violence against women. MORE

Ambassador Jawad Conveys Appreciation to the Vice President and Secretaries of State and Defenese: Ambassador Said T. Jawad thanked U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Defense Secretary Robert Gates early this month for their recent statements reflecting the United States’ recommitment to Afghanistan. The Ambassador expressed his appreciation to Vice President Cheney for his personal commitment to Afghanistan in the wake of his recent visit to Afghanistan and the region. MORE

Reconstruction Opportunity Zones Described as Major Boost for Afghan Economy: Reconstruction Opportunity Zones (ROZs), a new economic stimulus program for Afghanistan and border areas of Pakistan, were the subject of a Afghanistan Business Dialogue Series held on March 15th at the Embassy of Afghanistan. The ROZ concept was introduced by President George W. Bush as an integral part of a larger economic development program of the U.S. government for Afghanistan and Pakistan. It is a preferential program, loosely modeled after the existing Qualified Industrial Zones in Jordan and Egypt. MORE

Ambassador Jawad Travels to Washington State: On March 1 Ambassador Jawad traveled to Spokane and Seattle, Washington to address the World Affairs Council of Spokane. Before his speech at Gonzaga University Law School, the Ambassador recognized the crucial role that World Affairs Councils are playing in bringing policy makers and diplomats together with caring and influential citizens across the United States. MORE

Afghan Sports Federation Rejuvenates Afghanistan’s Athletic Prowess: The Afghan Sports Federation (ASF) has been a strong partner in rebuilding Afghanistan, providing Afghans with entertaining competitions and training a new generation of Afghan athletes. While many sectors suffered during the nearly three decades of war in Afghanistan, many young athletes were deprived of their rights to train and compete in national and international competitions. MORE

Ambassador Jawad Welcomes Incoming U.S. Officials : In letters to key U.S. officials, Ambassador Said T. Jawad congratulated incoming U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan William Wood, Deputy Secretary of State John D. Negroponte and Director of US National Intelligence Mike McConnell for their recent appointments. In his letters, the Ambassador discussed the achievements made in Afghanistan over the previous five years and identified the key challenges that Afghans continue to face in their progress toward a pluralistic, prosperous and secure state. MORE

Permanent Representative of Afghanistan to the UN Address the Security Council on Situation in Afghanistan: Dr. Zahir Tanin, Permanent Representative of Afghanistan to the United Nations, addressed the meeting of the Security Council on the Situation in Afghanistan on March 20. The meeting convened to consider the report of the Secretary General which covered developments in Afghanistan since the publication of the previous report of 11 September 2006. MORE

Ambassador Jawad Sends Message of Gratitude to U.S. Military Leaders: In letters to numerous outgoing and incoming military leaders, Ambassador Said T. Jawad expressed the gratitude of the Afghan government and people for the contribution made by American soldiers in Afghanistan’s reconstruction effort. Ambassador Jawad sent letters to: General John Abizaid, General Dan McNeil, General George Casey, General Peter Shoomaker, General John Mullholland, and Canadian Brigadier General Richard Frasier. MORE

Secretary Haidari Addresses National Defense Intelligence College:  On March 19, 2007 First Secretary M. Ashraf Haidari addressed an audience at the US Department of Defense National Defense Intelligence College on the invitation of College President, Mr. Denis Clift. As part of the Distinguished Speakers Program, Mr. Haidari addressed more than 200 US intelligence officers, faculty, and students on challenges and opportunities in strengthening Afghanistan’s security and reconstruction efforts. The event took place at the Defense Intelligence Analysis Center at the Bolling Air Force Base in Washington, D.C. MORE

Abbott Fund Provides Vital Medical Care to Afghan Women: The Abbott Fund is a global, broad-based health care company devoted to discovering new medicines, new technologies and new ways to manage health. Guided by the principle of global citizenship and a commitment to humanitarian causes, the Abbott Fund has invested in some of the world’s most vulnerable populations, including Afghan women. Recently, the Abbott Fund partners with Direct Relief International and the Afghan Institute for Learning (AIL) to reverse the country’s high maternal mortality rate and increase the overall survival and health of children. MORE

Afghanistan's First Bottled Water Company Makes Debut:  Afghanistan Beverage Industries Ltd. is the nation's first bottled-water maker. Afghanistan Beverage Industries Ltd. is playing a significant role in the reconstruction and development process of the economy by creating job opportunities and generating long term commercial activity. Its factory in Kabul employs nearly 150 Afghans and its shareholders are all Afghan-Americans. MORE

Secretary Haidari Speaks at American Foreign Service Association : First Secretary M. Ashraf Haidari discussed Afghanistan’s role in the war on terror with an audience at the American Foreign Service Association (AFSA) in Washington DC on March 2, 2007. He noted that before terrorism was identified as the main threat to international peace and security in 2001, “the terrorists had been occupying our country, victimizing our people, and destroying our treasured cultural heritage.” He reiterated Afghanistan’s role as the original front on the war on terror, and analyzed the globalization of security threats. MORE

The New York Times Reports on Land and Wildlife Conservation in Afghanistan:   Since June, Alex Dehgan has spent most of his time in Afghanistan, working to protect the country’s wildlife and develop its first official system of protected lands. The premise of the three-year project run by Dr. Dehgan, a behavioral ecologist and conservation biologist, is that conservation is critical for recovery and stability in a country where 80 percent of the population lives in rural surroundings and directly depends on local natural resources for survival...  MORE

The Globe and Mail Reports on the Growth of Afghanistan's Mining Sector : Were it anywhere else in the world, its mineral riches would surely have been tapped long ago, yet millions of tones of copper in the Aynak deposit sit untouched. The wealth underground has been shielded from exploitation by activity on the surface: foreign invasion, civil war, terrorism, occupation. Aynak is in Afghanistan, a place known more for land mines than copper mines. But the Afghan government is now trying to change all that, launching an ambitious campaign to woo foreign mining companies… MORE

Afghanistan to Hold First Agricultural Fair in Two Decades: The Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock, AgFair, and the Afghan International Chamber of Commerce will present AgFair 2007: The Afghan Agricultural Trade Fair. The trade fair will be held in Kabul, Afghanistan from April 22-23, 2007. Agfair is a gathering of farmers, agribusiness people, government and NGOs working towards agricultural development in Afghanistan. MORE

USAID General Activities Update for March 2007: In early 2007, USAID focused their efforts on enhancing literacy and teacher training, building roads, constructing greenhouses and supporting alternative livelihood development. The recent publication of the archives of Official Gazette of the Government of Afghanistan dating back to 1964 was supported through USAID grants to the National Assembly Library. MORE (pdf)

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, CFR.org spoke to Ambassador Jawad as part of their serires of Capital Interviews. After the Ambassador's travels to Washington State, the Spokesman Review published an insightful editorial on the situation in Afghanistan. The Amabassador and Embassy Officials were interviewed by a variety of media outlets, including KXLY TV, Air Force Link, Pajhwok News, the UC Davis Journal of International Affairs, and the Washington Times. 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. Afghanistan's mining sector was the subject of articles in the Science Times and the Globe and Mail. Also, numerous media outlets covered the Embassy's briefing on Reconstruction Opportunity Zones. To read these articles, please click Investment News

Embassy Events: In the month of February, the Embassy of Afghanistan honored Dr. Louise Pascale at a book party for "Qu Qu Qu Barg-e-Chinaar: Children’s Songs from Afghanistan." To view photographs from and read about Embassy events, please click on Embassy Events


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