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President Karzai, Ambassador Jawad Welcome President Obama

President Hamid Karzai and Ambassador Said T. Jawad welcomed President Barack Obama on his first day of office, expressing a renewed commitment to working together to address security and development challenges in Afghanistan. Ambassador Jawad attended the inaugural events as Afghanistan's only official representative.

In a statement from the Presidential Palace in Kabul, President Karzai welcomed Obama's inauguration as the beginning of a "new era of understanding" between the two countries. He pledged to continue working closely with the U.S. to address issues of terrorism, extremism, development and drug cultivation.

Ambassador Jawad joined other members of the diplomatic corps as Afghanistan's only official guest at President Obama's swearing-in ceremony on the National Mall on January 20. He also attended a number of inaugural events, including a diplomatic luncheon at the Blair House hosted by the Presidential Inaugural Committee and National Democratic Institute, the Official New England Inaugural Ball and Diplomatic Reception, and a musical reception with cellist Yo-Yo Ma hosted by the magazine The New Republic. On January 21 he attended the National Prayer Service at the National Cathedral in Washington. He also wrote personal letters to both President Obama and Vice President Joseph Biden congratulating them on their inauguration.

President Obama has promised to re-focus U.S. attention on security and development in Afghanistan. After traveling to the country as a candidate in July 2008 and meeting President Karzai, the two leaders spoke on the phone shortly after Obama's victory in the November 2008 presidential elections. Vice President Biden, a seasoned foreign policy expert, traveled to Afghanistan in early January 2009 to discuss existing challenges and opportunities with President Karzai.

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