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Afghan Governors Meet with President Bush during Cross Country Tour

Eight Afghan governors are on a cross-country tour of the United States in a public diplomacy campaign to create a dialogue between Afghan and American public officials. The 8 governors are meeting state and city leaders in Washington, Nebraska, New Mexico and California to discuss the U.S. system of federalism and election processes. The Governors arived on April 7 and will travel across the U.S. for three weeks.

"Our trip is important here because we would like to get back to our people what we have seen here, the commitment we have seen here, the promise we have seen here and how our friendship is a true friendship and the people of America are standing by their commitment," said Khost Province Governor Arsallah Jamal during a stop in Nebraska. Governor Jamal way joined by
Bahloul Bahij, governor of Panjshir province; Enayatullah Enayat, governor of Samangan province; Dr. Assadullah Hamdam, governor of Uruzgan province; Dr. Mohammad Akram Khpalwak, governor of Paktika province; Sultan Ali Orzgani, governor of Dai Kundi province; Abdulhaq Shafaq, governor of Faryab province; and Sayed Fazlullah Wahidi, governor of Kunar province.

The Governor’s began their trip in Washington, where they met with officials from the National Security Council and the Drug Enforcement Agency. On Capitol Hill they met with Senators Chuck Hagel, Joe Lieberman, Joeseph Biden, and John Kerry, and Representatives Pence and Ackerman. The Governors attended lectures on the workings of the U.S. government and toured the U.S. Supreme Court. The Embassy hosted the Governors for an intimate lunch reception.  

As Afghanistan is largely an agrarian country, the Govenors are meeting with business leaders, farmers and government officials involved in large scale agricultural production. During a roundtable with Nebraska farmers, they discussed agricultural subsidies, as well as the ways that technological innovation and alternative crops could contribute to the fight against poppy production in Afghanistan.

An important component of the trip was a number of roundtable discussions with U.S. governors. In meetings with Nebraska Gov. Dave Heineman and New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, the Afghan Governors will discuss the differences and similarities of their roles as public servants. The Governors also plan to meet with veterans from the U.S. military mission in Afghanistan to discuss the security situation in the country and express their gratitude for the sacrifices they have made in the name of freedom from tyranny and extremism.

The highlight of the trip was a surprise visit by President George W. Bush, who sat in on a meeting with the Governors and Deputy National Security Advisor for Iraq and Afghanistan Douglas Lute. The Governors shared their concerns with President Bush, and thanked him for his continued support of Afghanistan’s reconstruction. During the course of a one hour meeting, they discussed security and economic progress, as well as prospects for improved coordination between international and Afghan troops.  On a lighter note, President Bush shared anecdotes about his own experience as Governor of Texas and gave them a personal tour of the Oval Office.

“They (the governors) shared with me very candidly their concerns about different types of operations; their desire to see to it that the police get better training and better equipment,” President Bush told the White House Press Corp. “And I shared with them our desire to help them succeed, because one of the things that really matters in democracy is that local governance is strong and good and honest, that the people are being able to see the benefits of democracy. And it's hard work in Afghanistan.” 

CLICK HERE to watch a video of the Governors during their visit to Nebraska

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