Welcome to our e-newsletter Vol. 48 November 2007  

President Karzai Meets with German Chancellor Angela Merkel: German Chancellor Angela Merkel made her first visit to Afghanistan on November 3 and said Berlin remained committed to Afghanistan’s reconstruction. Speaking with President Hamid Karzai at a join press conference, Chancellor Merkel pledged to increase efforts to strengthen the Afghan National Police and bolster the 42 German trainers currently serving in Afghanistan. "We should further strengthen our efforts in building up the police," said Chancellor Merkel. The Chancellor also assured President Karzai that Germany would be contributing additional Tornado planes. MORE

Foreign Minister Spanta Meets with Chinese Countepart: Foreign Minister Dr. Rangeen Dadfar Spanta met with Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi in Kabul on November 14. The two sides discussed the expansion of political, economic, cultural, commercial, education, and agricultural relations, and the further strengthening and continuation of defense and security cooperation between the two countries.  MORE
U.S. Secretary of Defense Travels to Afghanistan:   U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates arrived in Afghanistan on December 3 on an official visit to evaluate international efforts against the Taliban. The Secretary met with President Hamid Karzai on November 4 as well as with the commanders of the US-led coalition and NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF). MORE
Afghan Jewish Community Hosts Ambassador Jawad :  On the evening of November 27, Ambassador Jawad met with the Afghan-American Jewish Community in Queens, New York. The Ambassador was hosted by community leader Jack Abraham, who is also President of Congregation Anshei Shalom and an active advocate for Afghanistan’s reconstruction. A traditional Afghan feast (both Kosher and Hallal) was served to over 300 guests. MORE

Ambassador Jawad Discusses Social and Economic Development in Arizona : Ambassador Said T. Jawad made his second visit to Arizona from November 7-9 on the invitation of the World Affairs Council of Scottsdale. The Ambassador also participated in an editorial board roundtable with the Arizona Republic, a breakfast reception with Thunderbird University, and a luncheon reception with local business and community leaders organized by Barbara Barrett, a strong supporter of Afghanistan, active member of the U.S.-Afghan Women's Council and longstanding friend of the Embassy. MORE

Significant Potential for Undiscovered Resources in Afghanistan : Afghanistan has significant amounts of undiscovered non-fuel mineral resources according to the U.S. Geological Survey’s 2007 assessment, unveiled November 13 at the 3rd annual U.S.-Afghan Business Matchmaking Conference organized by the Afghan-American Chamber of Commerce in Washington, D.C. Mineral resources present a great source for a country’s industrial growth and wealth. Estimates for copper and iron ore resources were found to have the most potential for extraction in Afghanistan. MORE
"Novel Company": Embassy Hosts Capitol File Magazine and Influential Washington Women for a Discussion of A Thousand Splendid Suns:  Shamim Jawad, wife of Afghan Ambassador Said T. Jawad, embraces her mission to raise awareness of her country and its people—especially women and children living in rural areas—among Americans. When she hosted novelist Khaled Hosseini in 2006, she witnessed firsthand how his stirring debut, The Kite Runner, captivated Washingtonians, including First Lady Laura Bush.  MORE (pdf)

American University of Afghanistan Creates an Educational Legacy: The American University of Afghanistan (AUA), the first private university in Afghanistan, is expanding rapidly, becoming a regional educational hub while providing long-denied educational opportunities to young and deserving Afghan students. The university, a non-profit organization that currently offers business, management, IT and liberal arts courses, is in its second year of operations. While 400 students are enrolled, AUA plans to expand to 5,000 students in the near future. MORE
Khaled Hosseini in Newsweek - High Hopes: Afghans Remain Optimistic Despite it All:  Every time I step before a podium, someone will inevitably raise his hand, and say, "So, Mr. Hosseini, are you optimistic or pessimistic about the future of Afghanistan?" The first thing I do is remind the audience that I am a novelist. If I have any expertise, it is in the inner lives of the characters I have created in my books—which makes me spectacularly underqualified to answer a question of such magnitude. But even as I say these words—and they are true—I know that I am stalling because I do not have a ready answer. MORE

National Education Strategic Plan to Expand Opportunities to Afghan Youth: In support of the Afghanistan Compact and Afghanistan’s National Development Plan, the Ministry of Education has completed a 5-year National Education Strategic Plan, 1385-1389 (NESP). The plan, which was launched earlier this year, represents the ambitions and aspirations of the people of Afghanistan, their government, and the Ministry of Education for a knowledge-based, secure society. MORE

Anyak Mine Project to Provide Employment, Mineral Wealth for Afghanistan: State-owned China Metallurgical Group (CMG) won a tender on November 20 to develop a mining project at Aynak, in Logar Province, which is thought to contain up to 13 million tons of copper. Approximately $3 billion will be invested in the project, the largest foreign investment in Afghanistan's history. Following the completion of construction, CMG will pay the Afghan government $400 million a year to operate the mine. MORE

HSU Marching Band Preforms Afghan National Anthem: On November 8, the Humboldt State University Marching Lumberjacks performed the national anthem of the Republic of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan. With the help of the Embassy of Afghansitan, the U.S. Marine Corps and the office of U.S. Rep. Mike Thompson, Humboldt State Marching Lumberjacks alumnus Gordon Johnson tracked down and received a band arrangement of the anthem. MORE

Afghan-American Chamber of Commerce Holds Third Annual Conference: U.S. Secretary of Commerce Carlos Gutierrez and Ambassador to the U.N. Zalmay Khalilzad were among the prominent Americans who joined Afghanistan experts in addressing the third annual U.S.-Afghan Business Matchmaking Conference presented by the Afghan-American Chamber of Commerce (AACC) on November 12-13 at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center in Washington, D.C. MORE

Ambassador Jawad Addresses the Alaska World Affairs Council: Ambassador Jawad made his first visit to Alaska on November 19-20 on the invitation of the Alaska World Affairs Council. Beginning in Anchorage, the Ambassador gave a power point presentation to Central Middle School that introduced the 500+ students to the people, culture and history of Afghanistan. The event was moderated by Ms. Amber Myers, who in addition to being a celebrated teacher, has served in Afghanistan with the National Guard. MORE

Embassy of Afghanistan Legislative Update for November 2007: This month, Congress debated supplemental war funding bills as well as the continued use of private military contractors in Afghanistna. The Republican staff of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations released a report finding a lack of cohesive overall strategy in US foreign assistance. The Embassy met with Senators Lugar and Hagel, and Congresswoman Sheila Jackson-Lee. Congressional Resource Service (CRS) updated two crucial reports on counter narcotics and governance and security. MORE

Afghan-American Rangina Hamidi to be Honored as a CNN Hero: Rangina Hamidi was selected this month as a finalist to be honored at "CNN Heroes: An All-Star Tribute," the culmination of a five-month public campaign to recognize ordinary people for their extraordinary accomplishments. The 18 finalists were selected from more than 7,000 nominations submitted by viewers in 80 countries. Ms. Hamidi will be recognized for her efforts to advance the cause of “justice, civil or equal rights.” MORE

Ring Road to Transform the Silk Road and Afghanistan's Economy : Until the Middle Ages, a network of trade routes known as the Silk Road was an important economic artery connecting China and Europe via Central Asia. Today, less than one percent of all trade between Asia and Europe goes overland through the countries of Central Asia. Now, China and seven Central Asian countries have agreed to build a modern-day equivalent of the historic Silk Road, in the hope of once again making Central Asia a vital transit route for trade between Asia and Europe. MORE

U.S. House of Representatives Condemns Terrorist Attack in Baghlan Province: On November 8th, 2007, Congressman David Dreier introduced H. Res. 811, a resolution in the U.S. House of Representatives condemning the terrorist bombing in Baghlan, Afghanistan on November 6th. The terrorist attack targeted an 18 member delegation of Afghan parliamentarians visiting the district to inaugurate a sugar plant. It was the worst suicide attack since the 2001 fall of the Taliban regime. The total death toll was 72 people, including 59 children who had been invited to the ceremony. MORE

Political Counselor Discusses Forced Repatriation of Afghan Refugees from Iran:  On November 12, Political Counselor M. Ashraf Haidari discussed the recent expulsion of several thousand Afghan refugees from Iran with the Voice of America. In light of the recent meeting of Afghan Deputy Foreign Minister Farahi with the Iranian chargé d'affaires in Kabul, Haidari strongly urged that Iran observe its international obligations toward Afghan refugees. MORE

Rebuild Afghanistan 2007 Summit Announced for December 15: The Fifth annual Rebuild Afghanistan Summit will be held on December 15 at Centerville Church in Freemony, CA. The annual event brings together Bay Area non-profit organizations that are working to assist Afghanistan’s rebuilding effort.
The conference’s keynote Speaker will be the President of Cal State University East Bay Dr. Mohammad Qayoumi.  MORE

U.S. Weighs a Larger Role for Marines in Afghanistan: On December 1, Marine Corps Commandant James Conway announced that he is pressing to shift all Marine combat operations from Iraq to Afghanistan. In an interview with CNN, Conway said if his proposal is approved, the shift would occur next year, and would be accomplished during the routine rotation of forces. MORE

Afghan Popular Support Key to Defeating the Taliban: Political Counselor M. Ashraf Haidari discussed challenges to security and governance in Afghanistan in a presentation to the US Army 101st Airborne Division at Fort Campbell in Kentucky on November 15. He thanked the deploying forces and their families for serving their nation in Afghanistan where they were most welcome by the Afghan people to help stabilize their country for reconstruction. MORE

International Community Continues to Show Strong Support for Afghanistan:  This month numerous nations pledged their support for Afghanistan’s reconstruction effort. Following the eighth EU-India Summit in New Delhi on November 30, India and the European Union (EU) expressed their strong support for a sovereign, democratic and pluralistic Afghanistan. In a joint statement, they reaffirmed their sustained commitment to assist the Afghan government in the stabilization and rebuilding of Afghanistan, working within the framework of the Afghanistan Compact. MORE

Microwave Ring Boosts Afghan Telecommunications: Nearly four million Afghans now have mobile telephones and competition between Afghanistan’s four mobile phone companies ensures that number will continue to grow. One of these companies, Afghan Wireless, has announced the completion of a 2,500km STM1 microwave ring, which passes through 18 provinces. The new backbone connects cities from Mazar, to Badakshan to Kabul to Kandahar to Herat. MORE

NPR: Rebuilding Afghanistan's Air Core:  In Afghanistan, military jets and helicopters are vital to the war being waged against the Taliban and other insurgents. The aircraft are not just vital to combat, but also to troop and supply transport hampered by Afghanistan's many mountains and poor roads. MORE

Embassy in the News: This month, Ambassador Jawad discussed the current state of affairs in Afghanistan with the National Journal, KFNX Radio, Military.com, the Anchorage Daily News, and the Juneau Empire. Political Counselor Ashraf Haidari published an Letter to the Editor in the International Herald Tribune and the New York Times and was interviewed on Voice of America. 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 Anyak Mine contract was announced and USGS unveiled a new study of Afghanistan's natural resources. To read these articles, please click Investment News

Embassy Events: To view photographs from and read about Embassy events, please click on Embassy Events


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