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First Lady Laura Bush Addresses Afghan Student Leaders at Young Atlanticist Summit

Future leaders from both the Euro-Atlantic region and Afghanistan convened on the sidelines of the NATO summit in Bucharest to discuss the major security issues facing the Atlantic Community today. Over 120 students and young professionals from NATO and Partnership for Peace countries participated, as well as some of the best students from the University of Kabul and the American University of Afghanistan.

These promising young leaders had the extraordinary opportunity to meet with both national and NATO decision makers, including Presidents Hamid Karzai and George W. Bush and NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer.

First Lady of the U.S. Laura Bush gave a keynote speech commending the initiative and praising the Afghan students present. She thanked the 25 NATO allies and 15 partner nations for their contributions in Afghanistan, as well as the 8 million voters who bravely voted to choose their first elected president in 2004. The First Lady emphasized the progress that has been made in Afghanistan’s educational system, which now serves over six million student, including two million girls. She applauded Kabul University for their efforts to promote gender equity, singling out their Women's Teacher Training Institute.

“To translate the opportunities of education into a lasting contribution to your country's success, I challenge the students of Afghanistan to continue to work together,” said the First Lady. “To the other young leaders who are here with me today in this room, I urge you to learn more about the challenges faced by your peers in Afghanistan. Your participation in the Young Atlanticist Summit complements NATO's history as a great alliance of freedom. By supporting Afghanistan's young democracy, we can honor this decades- long commitment and help expand liberty for all.”

The Young Atlanticist Summit is described as an opportunity to build consensus between future leaders of the NATO and Partnership for Peace countries, and to address issues that are important for the further development of the NATO alliance. At the conclusion of the Summit, the delegates issued a statement on mechanisms for building closer relations between Alliance and the people of Afghanistan.

For more information on the Young Atlanticist Summit, visit:

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