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Author Khaled Hosseini Returns to Afghanistan

In September, best-selling author Khaled Hosseini traveled to Afghanistan to raise awareness of the need for continued international cooperation on helping the country rebuild. “Long term engagement is absolutely critical if the country is to continue moving in the right direction," he said. "Afghanistan needs time, patience and relentless effort. This is not the time to give up. It is the time to remain fully engaged so that the positive developments can be built upon and produce long-term results."

As a UNHCR Goodwill Envoy Hosseini took a 10-day tour of northern Afghanistan. Hosseini was in Afghanistan for the first time since gaining international recognition for his best-selling novel, "The Kite Runner," in 2005. His second book, "A Thousand Splendid Suns," was released earlier this year and has also proved a major hit worldwide.

His last visit came in 2003, less than two years after the 2001 fall of the Taliban regime. Since then, UNHCR has helped more than 4 million refugees come back to Afghanistan and this latest trip gave Hosseini the opportunity to speak with them face to face. "Afghan people are by their nature optimistic and resourceful and they continue to believe that the future holds better things for them," Hosseini said at the conclusion of his travels. "My books have been a source of personal success. I hope that I can use the opportunity I have been given to keep Afghanistan in the public consciousness and to raise awareness about those who are amongst the most vulnerable in Afghanistan today."

Upon his return to the U.S., Hosseini was welcomed to the White House by President George W. Bush and Mrs. Laura Bush for a screening of the upcoming film adaptation of the Kite Runner. Guests at the screening included: Vice President Dick Cheney; Secretary of Defense Robert Gates; Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Peter Pace; National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley; Ambassador Said T. Jawad of Afghanistan; former U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan, now U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Zalmay Khalilzad; former U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan Ronald E. Neumann; and President of the American University in Afghanistan Tom Stauffer.

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