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Ambassador Jawad Welcomes New Strategy for Afghanistan

Afghanistan's Ambassador to the U.S. Said T. Jawad today expressed his gratitude to the administration of President Barack Obama for crafting the new U.S. strategy for Afghanistan, which was released in Washington on March 27. (President Obama's speech is here.)

"We are very grateful to President Barack Obama and his administration for the efforts that have gone into producing this new strategy for victory in Afghanistan," said Ambassador Jawad. "The new strategy is significant because it is comprehensive and incorporated the input and insights of diverse voices."

The new strategy, which will be presented to international partners on March 31 in The Hague and at the NATO Summit in France and Germany on April 3-4, was drawn from three existing strategy reviews and included substantive discussions with various stakeholders, including the Afghan government. In late February 2009 a senior delegation of Afghan officials led by Foreign Minister Dr. Rangin D. Spanta came to Washington to share their insights on specific matters that should be touched upon in the new strategy.

"During the visit of our senior delegation, we were able to share a number of issues of importance to the Afghan government, including expanding the Afghan security forces, enhancing the capacity of our state institutions, increasing and more effectively using development assistance, and looking at the terrorist threat in a regional context," said Ambassador Jawad. "This new strategy took our perspectives into consideration." Another round of discussions is scheduled for early May 2009.

The new strategy calls for both an increase in U.S. troops and a continued expansion of the Afghan security forces. The Afghan National Army currently stands at 80,000 troops; it is set to reach 134,000 troops by 2011. The strategy also stresses the importance of addressing terrorism in a regional context, and working closely with Pakistan to deal with security challenges along the border. It pledges to provide the necessary resources for military and civilian goals and sets clear benchmarks for success. It also identifies the August 2009 presidential elections in Afghanistan as vital to the country's democratic growth and pledges U.S. support for them.

"We are happy to see the new U.S. strategy touch upon the many inter-related issues that will be key to success in Afghanistan," said Ambassador Jawad. "Security, development, democracy and regional cooperation are all vital elements of a victorious campaign for Afghanistan's future."

Ambassador Jawad also thanked the team of senior officials appointed by President Barack Obama to lead the strategy review. "We're grateful to have worked with a team as experienced and professional as the one picked by President Obama. From Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Special Envoy Ambassador Richard Holbrooke to National Security Advisor General James Jones and Strategy Review Chair Bruce Riedel, the U.S. officials we worked with were open to our suggestions and committed to the mission of an Afghanistan that is peaceful, pluralistic and prosperous," he said.

With a new strategy in place, Ambassador Jawad stressed the importance of its proper implementation. "The Afghan government is committed to working with the U.S. and our allies to implement this new strategy," he noted. "We ask our NATO allies, major donors and the friends of Afghanistan to collaborate with the strategy’s implementation by providing the resources it will need."

"This strategy addresses how we can deal with remaining security and development challenges in Afghanistan, and it is now up to us to deliver the goods to the Afghan people," he concluded.

Related News: Obama to Boost Forces in Afghanistan, Pakistan Aid (Bloomberg)

                      Pakistan, Afghanistan Welcome New Strategy (The News)

                           Afghans Welcome New Strategy (Washington Independent)

                      Obama Unveils New Afghan-Pak Strategy (MSNBC)

                      Ambassador Jawad Delivers Speech on New U.S. Strategy

                      Senior Afghan Delegation Completes Visit to Washington

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