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House Speaker Nancy Pelosi Meets with President Karzai

A Congressional delegation including 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 met President Hamid Karzai on January 28 during a short fact-finding tour of Afghanistan focused on efforts to defeat the Taliban.

In conversation with Speaker Pelosi, the President explained that security forces need to be stronger as the two discussed possible American troop increases. The President stressed his desire for increased training and equipment for Afghanistan's army and police forces. Speaker Pelosi responded to concerns about a sudden change in American policy in Afghanistan. She assured President Karzai that the United States would continue to help Afghanistan fight terrorism and rebuild. The two also discussed plans announced last week by the Bush administration to extend the tour of 3,200 soldiers and ask Congress for $10.6-billion for Afghanistan, a major increase aimed at rebuilding the country and strengthening government security forces still fighting the Taliban five years after the U.S.-led invasion. The delegation also met members of the cabinet, parliamentarians and commanders of the US-led Coalition forces and the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF).

During a press conference upon their return, Congressman Skelton labeled Afghanistan “the forgotten war” and demanded increased attention on security and reconstruction efforts. “In the days following the 9/11 attacks, Afghanistan was the center of our effort to fight the terrorists who attacked our country…In spite of the security challenges before the Afghan people and the international community, I am convinced that we can make major progress in bringing security to Afghanistan if adequate forces are contributed to this effort…We must put forward a comprehensive and long-term strategy that finally gives Afghanistan the attention it demands in the war on terror,” he said. Speaker Pelosi reiterated Rep. Skelton’s comments, telling reporters that Afghanistan is “a fight that needs our concerted effort and that of NATO nations.”

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