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Ambassador Jawad Interviewed by Middle East Bulletin

A wide-ranging interview with Ambassador Said T. Jawad appeared in the Middle East Bulletin, an online publication of the Center for American Progress, on July 21. During the interview, Ambassador Jawad discussed the new U.S. strategy for Afghanistan, the growth of the Afghan National Army, the role played by Afghanistan's neighbors and improvements in the disbursement of development assistance.

On the new U.S. strategy, Ambassador Jawad welcomed the inclusion of senior Afghan officials in its creation and implementation. "When the new strategy was formulated for the first time, the U.S. government did involve both the military officials and government officials of Afghanistan through a series of meetings in Kabul and here in Washington, including the minister of defense, the minister of finance, officials from the office of the president and the embassy of Afghanistan. They were all involved in developing the new strategy and extensive consultation took place," he noted.

Ambassador Jawad also cited the importance of expanding the Afghan National Army, which he stated would be the most cost-effective and sustainable way to secure Afghanistan. "The training of the Afghan National Army is going well," he pointed out. "There has been, from the very beginning, a lot more focus, attention and resources allocated to the training of the Afghan National Army. The initial ceiling that was set for 70,000 was very low. Now, there is a better degree of understanding of the challenges that we are facing and therefore this number has been increased to 134,000. However we think that under the current security threat Afghanistan needs an army of 250,000 strong."

Speaking on the issue of development aid, Ambassador Jawad highlighted the importance of having funds channeled through the Afghan government budget. "We have been asking for more support for the national budget of Afghanistan. In certain areas, especially in areas of health care and education, there has been a lot of improvement and more funding and money has been allocated to the ministries of health and education. We are also seeing a better degree of willingness on the part of the donor community to support our ministry of agriculture which is an important sector for the economy of Afghanistan," he said.

"The movements are on the right track. Fortunately, we have also a very solid track record of proving that we get a lot more out of every dollar being spent through the budget of the Afghan government, the health sector being a prime example," he continued. "The ministry of health of Afghanistan took the leadership, and USAID and other donor communities have supported the ministry directly, and we have very significant accomplishments as far as deliveries of basic health care throughout the country."

Ambassador Jawad also welcomed the civilian surge, a plan to send 600 advisors to help build capacity within government institutions, and expressed his support of Gen. Stanley McChrystal's plan to minimize civilian casualties.

The full interview can be found here.

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