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President Karzai Speaks at Munich Conference

President Hamid Karzai spoke at the 45th Munich Security Conference on February 8, using the opportunity to discuss the partnership between Afghanistan and the international community and identify continuing challenges in Afghanistan. While in Germany for the conference President Karzai also met with Richard Holbrooke, U.S. Special Envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan, and James Jones, National Security Advisor to President Barack Obama.

In his speech, President Karzai referred to the last seven years in Afghanistan as a "new horizon of peace, prosperity and the rule of law" while recognizing a number of shortcomings that remain. "Despite expending so much in collective effort, and suffering losses of precious lives, both Afghan and non-Afghan, the goal of securing Afghanistan so that the foundations of a new democratic state and a prosperous economy could be built, has not been sufficiently achieved," he noted. "Today, while grave challenges remain and hard choices will have to be made on the way forward, it is with a strong resolve and continued effort that these challenges will be overcome."

Speaking to U.S. plans to deply additional troops to Afghanistan, President Karzai welcomed the move by President Obama while calling for a consistent increase in the building of Afghan institutions like the Afghan National Army. "Afghanization of the security sector in Afghanistan is another strategic task that must be accelerated," he stated. "In addition to ensuring the sustainability of both counter-terrorism and stabilization effort in Afghanistan, expanding the Afghan security institutions' role will greatly improve the effectiveness of our operations and help avoid some of the unintended negative outcomes."

President Karzai pointed to non-military means necessary to achieve victory in Afghanistan. "Military action may be the primary response, but it can only succeed if it is part of a comprehensive strategy that covers reconciliation, consolidating our democratic gains, institutional building, fighting narcotics and corruption and above all, economic development," he said. He also stressed that the fight against terrorism required a regional approach.

In closing, President Karzai recognized the difficulties ahead but also expressed confidence and what could be achieved. "In 2009, this international effort will be entering its eighth year and there is much by way of our collective achievements that we can be proud of," he noted. "The new year is going to be tough and full of challenges, but already it looks brimming with opportunities too. We in Afghanistan are determined to grasp every opportunity with eagerness and vision, and meet each challenge with courage and resolve. And we will count on continued partnership with the international community."

Related News: Text and Audio of President Karzai's Speech at Munich Conference

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