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News and Views

First Lady Laura Bush Speaks to Fox News About Afghanistan

First Lady Laura Bush sat down with Fox News this week to discuss her continuing role in promoting development in Afghanistan.

During the interview, Mrs. Bush emphasized the need for education and healthcare in Afghanistan, saying, "Afghanistan needs roads, schools, hospitals and medical help pull themselves out of poverty." The U.S. has already built or improved more than 10,000 km of road, 600 health care facilities and 3,500 schools, she pointed out. In spite of those accomplishments, much of Afghanistan's rural population remains unconnected by roads, only 11 percent has access to electricity, and only 23 percent of the country has access to reliable electricity.

Speaking about international development aid, the First Lady expressed concern about how much of the pledged money would actually reach Afghanistan. "A lot of times the pledges that are made, that huge number of pledges is not always followed up with the total amount," she stated. Additionally, as much as 50 percent of all foreign aid is believed to return to the country of origin in the form of consultant fees, salaries, and operations costs.

Women's rights were also a key area of discussion for Mrs. Bush. She emphasized that while a great deal of progress has been made, women politicians and entrepreneurs still feel threatened by extremists, and girls schools are a popular target for Taliban attacks.

The First Lady, a longtime advocate for the country and its people, has visited Afghanistan three times, most recently traveling to Bamiyan Province and Kabul. She also attended the Paris Support Conference on June 12, where over $21 billion was committed to Afghan development projects by the international community.

Mrs. Bush promised her continued dedication to the people - especially women - of Afghanistan, even after she and President George W. Bush leave the White House in 2009. She is planning a fourth visit to the country, this time with her two daughters. "This is our chance," said the First Lady. "If we aren’t successful now, when will it happen?"

Related News: First Lady Laura Bush Travels to Afghanistan and Visits Bamiyan Province

                      What I Saw in Afghanistan (Wall Street Journal)

                      Paris Conference Yields $21 Billion for Afghanistan's Development

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