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Embassy of Afghanistan Legislative Update for January 2007

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.

This month, Ambassador Jawad and Embassy officials held a number of high-level meetings on Capitol Hill to discuss the ongoing rebuilding effort in Afghanistan. On January 16 Ambassador Jawad and Dr. Ishaq Naderi, Senior Economic Advisor to President Hamid Karzai, met with California Congressmen Tom Lantos and a senior advisor of Senator Chuck Hagel to discuss pressing issues of security and capacity building in Afghanistan. Ambassador Jawad met with New York Congressman Gary Ackerman  on January 17 to discuss security and development issues, as well as upcoming legislation relevant to Afghanistan. Ambassador Jawad also met with a senior advisor from the office of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to discuss security, governance, and counter-narcotics in Afghanistan. Ambassador Jawad spoke with Senator Hillary Clinton before she traveled to region earlier this month. On January 23, a delegation from Afghanistan’s Ministry of Defense met with California Congressman Ken Calvert , a member of House Armed Services Committee. The Ambassador met with West Virginia Senator Jay Rockefeller on January 24 to discuss security issues and the uncanny similarities between West Virginia and Afghanistan. 

Deputy Minister of Defense General Mohibullah also met with Texan Representative Solomon Ortiz , a senior member of the House Armed Services Committee, to discuss the accomplishments and challenges faced by the Afghan National Army. 

 Throughout the month Ambassador Jawad wrote congratulatory letters to the newly elected Congressional leadership, and key members of the House and Senate Appropriations, Armed Services, Budget, Foreign Relations, and Intelligence committees of the 110th Congress. He looks forward to working closely with members of the 110th Congress on issues concerning Afghanistan and US-Afghan relations. 

Congressional delegations traveling to Afghanistan this month included New York Senator  Hillary Clinton , Indiana Senator Evan Bayh, New York Representative John McHugh, and Kansas Senator Sam Brownback.  A second delegation included House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Chairman of the Armed Services Committee Representative Ike Skelton, Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee Representative Tom Lantos, Chairman of the Intelligence Committee Representative Silvestre Reyes, Chairman of the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee Representative John Murtha, Chairwoman of the State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Appropriations Subcommittee Representative Nita Lowey, and Ranking Member of the Energy and Water Development Appropriations Subcommittee Representative David Hobson. At a press conference following their return, Representative Skelton said, "Afghanistan, in my opinion, has a flicker of light at the end of the tunnel...It is truly the forgotten war, and should never have fallen off our list of being the number one priority. It's the central front on the war against terror."

Senator Brownback and New Jersey Congressman Frank Pallone spoke eloquently on the floors of the Senate and House in support of renewing America’s commitment to Afghanistan. On January 16, Rep. Pallone said, “If there is any place where the United States should be stepping up its efforts, both in terms of resources and manpower, and where we would have international support, again, in terms of other countries’ troops as well as other countries’ resources and money, it would certainly be Afghanistan.”

A number of bills Concerning Afghanistan were introduced on Capitol Hill this month. The Afghan Women Empowerment Act of 2007 was introduced in the Senate by Senator Barbara Boxer and others. This bill discusses the unfortunate circumstances faced by Afghan women in the areas of health and education, and calls for U.S. support, financial and otherwise, of Afghan women and women’s institutions in Afghanistan.  The bill also seeks to amend the Afghanistan Freedom Support Act of 2002 to enhance U.S. assistance in specific areas of concern to Afghan women.  

The 9/11 Commission Implementation Act of 2007 was introduced by Mississippi Representative Bennie Thompson . This bill was passed by the House and will soon be presented to the Senate.  It outlines U.S. policy towards Afghanistan by stating the U.S.’s long-term commitment to the Government and people of Afghanistan.  It also calls for a re-authorization of the Afghanistan Freedom Support Act of 2002 and for a 180 day reporting requirement for the President to the House and Senate Committees on Foreign Relations and Appropriations on aspects covered by the bill. 

A bill Calling for Strengthening of Efforts of US to Defeat the Taliban and Terrorist Networks in Afghanistan was introduced to the Senate by Senator John Kerry and has been referred to the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations. The bill reiterated that the US’ commitment to fighting terrorism in the region, and objected to reducing troops in Afghanistan in order to re-deploy them elsewhere.

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