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President Karzai and U.S. President Reaffirm Commitment to Defeat Taliban at Camp David

President Hamid Karzai met with U.S. President George Bush at the presidential retreat Camp David early this month to further strengthen the strategic partnership between Afghanistan and the United States. The two leaders vowed to win the war against the Taliban and al Qaeda during a press conference on August 6, following detailed discussions of Afghanistan's reconstruction, military cooperation, regional issues, civilian casualties, the fight against terrorism and narcotics, and the peace Jirga between Afghanistan and Pakistan.

President Karzai arrived at Camp David the afternoon of August 5, where he was greeted by U.S. President George Bush and First Lady Laura Bush, as well as Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley. The President is accompanied on this trip by Dr. Rangeen Dadfar Spanta, Minister of Foreign Affairs; Dr. Zalmai Rasoul, National Security Advisor; Gen. Abdul Rahim Wardak, Minister of Defense; Umer Daudzai, Chief of Staff to the President; and Humayun Hamidzada, Spokesman to the President. Afghan officials met with their American counterparts throughout the summit.

In his opening remarks at an early morning press conference, President Karzai focused on the achievements made in Afghanistan’s health sector, specifically improvements made to infant and maternal mortality rates. “Afghanistan today, with the help that you have provided and our other allies have provided can save, is saving the life of at least 50,000 infants after they are born, and the life of 85,000 children under five,” said President Karzai. “Mr. President, when you and I begin to think of the mothers who can have their babies safe today, then we know the value and the importance of this achievement. And thank you very, very much for this tremendous help. Afghanistan would have not had 85,000 children living today had you not been there to help us with the rest of the world.”

President Bush’s comments reiterated the United States’ commitment to President Karzai and Afghanistan. “I appreciate your stewardship. I appreciate your commitment to empowering your people. I appreciate your strong stance for freedom and justice, and I'm proud to call you an ally in this war against those who would wreak havoc in order to deny people a chance to live in peace. We're working closely together to help the people of Afghanistan prosper. We work together to give the people of Afghanistan a chance to raise their children in a hopeful world. And we're working together to defeat those who would try to stop the advance of a free Afghan society.”

President Bush expressed regret over civilian deaths in Afghanistan, and said the United States was doing everything in its power to avoid civilian casualties. He praised the role that the Afghan National Army is playing in the fight against insurgents. "There's still a fight going on, but I'm proud to report to the American people that the Afghan Army is in the fight. The government's in the fight, and the army's in the fight," said President Bush.
President Karzai insisted that, despite Afghanistan’s continued security challenges, "We have gone a long way. ... Progress has been made. Our enemy is still there -- defeated, but still hiding in the mountains. And our duty is to complete the job, to get them out of their hide-outs in the mountains."

When asked if the Taliban pose a threat to the Afghan Government, President Karzai responded that the recent trend of desperate terrorist attacks targeting Afghanistan’s most vulnerable populations were proof that the Taliban did represent a serious challenge to the Afghan and international security forces. "The Taliban do pose dangers to our innocent people, to children going to school, to our clergy, to our teachers, to our engineers, to international aid workers," he said. "They are not posing any threat to the government of Afghanistan, they are not posing any threat to the institutions of Afghanistan."

CLICK HERE for a full transcript of the Press Conference of President Karzai and President Bush

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