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Minister of Defense Visits Washington, Meets with Senior Officials

Afghanistan's Minister of Defense, General Abdul Rahim Wardak, visited Washington on September 22-26, where he met with senior officials to discuss the security situation in Afghanistan and provide an update on the growth of the Afghan National Army (ANA).

Minister Wardak met with a number of senior officials, including Eric S. Edelmen, Undersecretary of Defense for Policy; John Negroponte, Deputy Secretary of State; Lieutenant General Douglas E. Lute, Assistant to the President and National Security Advisor for Iraq and Afghanistan; General George W. Casey, Chief of Staff of the U.S. Army; and Vice President Dick Cheney.

The minister also spoke to a number of congressional leaders, including Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.), Senator John Warner (R-Va.), Rep. Ike Skelton (D-Mo.), Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.) and Senator Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.). He discussed the current growth of the ANA, the continuing need for resources to train ANA troops and recruits of the Afghan National Police and his desire to see Afghan forces take more responsibility for security in the country.

Minister Wardak visited Arlington National Cemetary for a wreath-laying at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and toured the newly inaugurated Pentagon Memorial. At the two-acre memorial for the 184 people killed at the Pentagon on September 11, 2001, Minister Wardak expressed his regrets that Afghanistan had served as a terrorist haven prior to the U.S. invasion.

Minister Wardak spoke at the Heritage Foundation, where he candidly discussed Afghanistan's progress and existing security challenges. He also expressed his gratitude for the sacrifice of the U.S. troops serving in Afghanistan.

After completing his agenda, Minister Wardak joined other senior Afghan and U.S. officials at the Strategic Partnership talks at the U.S. State Department on September 25.

The minister was accompanied by Lieutenant General Sher Mohammad Karimi, Afghan National Army, Chief of General Staff; Major General Mohammad Zahir Azimi, Army, Chief of Parliamentary and Public Affairs, Ministry of National Defense; and Colonel Shah Mahmood Rauf Wardak, Army, Senior Aide to the Minister of National Defense.

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