Welcome to our e-newsletter Vol. 58 September 2008  

President Karzai Visits Washington: President Hamid Karzai visited Washington, D.C. on September 24-26, 2008, meeting with congressional leaders and sitting down with President George W. Bush to discuss progress and challenges in Afghanistan. The official visit came on the heels of President Karzai's stay in New York, where he addressed the UN General Assembly, met with a number of foreign leaders, spoke to the Asia Society and discussed Afghanistan with vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin. MORE

President Karzai Addresses UN General Assembly: "Since the last time we gathered here, we have passed a year of great hopes and grave fears; we have witnessed the hope-inspiring glory of human accomplishment at the Olympic games in Beijing, but shuddered at crumbling stock and housing markets around the world; we have a growing global understanding on climate change issues, but seen millions of lives threatened by shortage of food in many countries and have witnessed with disbelief the brutal, wholesale slaughter of innocent people at the hands of terrorists." MORE

National Hero Remembered: On the occasion of the National Day of Fallen Martyrs, President Hamid Karzai led a ceremony recognizing the accomplishments and life of the late Ahmad Shah Massoud, the national hero of Afghanistan, who fought against the Soviet Union and the Taliban. Standing before 3,000 people on September 9, 2008, President Karzai called for national unity. "Let's join hands and unite in rebuilding our country. Whenever we have been united, we have succeeded, and when we are divided, we have lost." MORE

Afghanistan Commemorates September 11, 2001: On the seventh anniversary of the deadly attacks of September 11, 2001 that killed 3,000 people in the U.S., President Hamid Karzai solemnly offered his condolences to the people of the United States for the dramatic and painful losses they suffered on that day. President Karzai also recognized how far Afghanistan had come since the U.S. and its international partners defeated the Taliban in the wake of the 2001 attacks. "We have had a long journey since then. Afghanistan, thank God, has had lots of achievements." MORE

U.S. and Afghanistan Hold Partnership Talks: The U.S. and Afghanistan held the third round of talks on the U.S.-Afghanistan Strategic Partnership on September 25, 2008 in Washington, D.C. The partnership is a dialogue that outlines shared interests between the two countries in enhancing long-term security, democracy and prosperity. Foreign Minister Dr. Rangin D. Spanta led the Afghan delegation in the talks, while the U.S. delegation was led by Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte. The talks focused on four key issues: governance, prosperity, security and counter-narcotics. MORE

Minister of Defense Visits Washington, Meets Officials: Minister of Defense General Abdul Rahim Wardak visited Washington on September 22-26, where he met with senior officials to discuss the security situation in Afghanistan and provide an update on the growth of the Afghan National Army (ANA). He met with congressional leaders and senior administration officials and visited both Arlington National Cemetary and the Pentagon Memorial. MORE
Fareed Zakaria Interviews President Karzai: On September 25 CNN's Fareed Zakaria sat down and interviewed President Hamid Karzai. During the conversation, President Karzai spoke about increasing U.S. troop numbers in Afghanistan, working with regional partners to fight terrorist sanctuaries, negotiating peace with willing parties and the progress Afghanistan has made since 2001. MORE

Minister of Defense Speaks at Heritage Foundation: Minister of Defense General Abdul Rahim Wardak addressed the Heritage Foundation on September 24, 2008, where he discussed current security challenges in Afghanistan and how to best overcome them. In his speech, Minister Wardak dissected the current progress being made, including the successes and failures by the Afghan government, as well as elucidating several practical aims for Afghanistan in the coming year. MORE
IDLG Director Popal Visits Washington: Mr. Jelani Popal, the director of the Independent Directorate of Local Governance (IDLG), visited Washington on October 2-3 and met with various senior officials to discuss governance issues in Afghanistan. Created by President Hamid Karzai in 2007, the IDLG is an agency that seeks to extend the national government's reach and increase its legitimacy by improving governance at the local and provincial levels. MORE
Ambassador Jawad Travels to Brazil and Argentina: Ambassador Said T. Jawad traveled to Brazil and Argentina in early October as part of an official visit to the two South American countries in which he serves as Afghanistan's non-resident ambassador. In both Brasilia and Buenos Aires Ambassador Jawad met with senior government officials to discuss the current situation in Afghanistan and outline further bilateral cooperation. MORE
Political Counselor Speaks to Diplomats and Students: Political Counselor M. Ashraf Haidari spoke at the United States Foreign Service Institute on September 19. He briefed a group of Foreign Service officers who have been assigned to work with the U.S. Provincial Reconstruction Teams (PRT) in Afghanistan on the overall situation and assessed the priorities of the Afghan government to improve local governance and service delivery to people. On September 4, he spoke to students at American University. MORE
'Hidden Treasures' Exhibit Travels to San Francisco: After a succesful run in Washington, D.C. that drew 215,000 visitors, the exhibit "Afghanistan: Hidden Treasures of the National Museum, Kabul" will be opening at the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco, California on October 24. The exhibit features 228 stunning artifacts dating back almost 4,000 years that tell of Afghanistan's diverse history and its brave people. MORE
Exhibit Highlights Dutch-Afghan Partnership: Ambassador Said T. Jawad and Dutch Ambassador Renee Jones-Bos came together to highlight the partnership between the Netherlands and Afghanistan at a reception for the opening of the 'In Afghanistan' photo exhibit on September 17, 2008. The exhibit, which features over 50 photographs taken by Dutch photographer Hans Stakelbeek, focuses on the human face of Afghanistan's reconstruction. MORE

Minister Sangin Publishes Op-Ed in Washington Post: On September 8 Minister of Communication and Information Technology Amir Zai Sangin published an op-ed in the Washington Post detailing the many advances in Afghanistan's communications sector. "In 2001, Afghanistan had one of the lowest telephone penetration rates in the world. There were no mobile phones and fewer than 40,000 fixed-line telephones in a country of about 26 million. Today, Afghanistan has almost 6 million telephone subscribers, more than 5.4 million of whom use mobile phones, as well as five national and three highly competitive regional carriers," he wrote. MORE

Afghanistan Continues Cricket Victories: Afghanistan's national cricket team claimed the World Cricket League Division Four title on Saturday in Tanzania, defeating Hong Kong and looking towards qualifying for the 2011 World Cup. With this weekend's victory, Afghanistan will play in the Division Three contest in Argentina in January. If they place in the top two finishers there, they will qualify for the World Cup. MORE

Legislative Update for September 2008: In September 2008, President Karzai met with congressional leaders, Minister of Defense General Abdul Rahim Wardak met with congressional leaders, the House and Senate Armed Services committees held hearings on Afghanistan, Majority Leader Sen. Harry Reid spoke about his trip to Afghanistan, officials from the Embassy of Afghanistan briefed congressional staffers on Reconstruction Opportunity Zones (ROZs) and the Senate introduced the Afghanistan Freedom and Security Support Act of 2008 (AFSSA). MORE

In Other News: Afghan Returns in 2008 to Pass Quarter Million Mark (UNHCR); In Poverty and Strife, Women Test Limits (New York Times); Hong Kong and Afghanistan Off to Winning Starts (AFP); Activist Rangina Hamidi Works to Improve Lives of Afghan Women (VOA); City of Screams to be Turned Into Tourist Site (Quqnoos); Afghan Tailors Work Around the Clock for Eid Rush (AFP); Black Widow's Inhospitable Beauty (BBC); Poppy-Free Nangarhar Province Shows Afghanistan Improvements (AFPS); Afghan Army Slowly Pulls Itself Up By Bootstraps (Reuters). MORE

Embassy in the News: This month, Ambassador Said T. Jawad and Pakistani Ambassador Husain Huqqani published an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal extolling the benefits of Reconstruction Opportunity Zones (ROZs) and encouraging the U.S. Congress to support them. Ambassador Jawad also published a letter in Foreign Policy defending Afghanistan's progress. Political Counselor Ashraf Haidari authored an article on Afghan refugees. To read these and other articles and op-eds, please click Embassy in the News.


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