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President Hamid Karzai Visits the United Kingdom

During the month of October, President Hamid Karzai made an official visit to the United Kingdom. The President met with Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II at Buckingham Palace, as well as Prime Minister Gordon Brown, Defense Secretary Des Brown, Minister for International Development Douglas Alexander, and other senior UK officials.

Following a working breakfast at Number 10 Downing Street, President Karzai and Prime Minister Brown held a joint press conference, where the two leaders discussed the security, narcotics and reconstruction strategy currently being pursued throughout Afghanistan.

“We have put the Taliban on the defensive by the combined efforts of everyone. At the same time our strategy for the future is development, defense and diplomacy, all three working together,” said Prime Minister Brown. The Prime Minister expressed the will of the UK to support Afghanistan in the long-term and “make sure that people have a stake in the future of Afghanistan.”

The Prime Minister called for diplomatic and development efforts to match the international military effort. “President Karzai and I have been able to talk about the expansion of the Afghan economy, what we can do to help industrial development, particularly the development of electricity and irrigation in the agricultural areas and how we can move forward, greater coordination of the development effort in Afghanistan so that all Afghan citizens are sure that they have a stake in the future…We are all determined that Afghanistan should never become a failed state again and to support the democracy that has been created in that country,” he said.

President Karzai thanked the UK for their crucial participation in a rural development program that has directly benefited more than half of Afghanistan’s 38,000 villages. He reviewed the political, economic and social progress that has been made thus far in Afghanistan, citing the Presidential and Parliamentary elections, the enhancement of health services, and the expansion of education opportunities to six million Afghan children. “The UK’s assistance to Afghanistan is effective in improving security and Afghan lives,” said President Karzai.

A subsequent meeting with Defense Secretary Des Brown included detailed discussions of security situation in Afghanistan, as well as the UK’s assistance to the training and equipping of the Afghan national police. “Britain will remain loyal to its long-term commitment to Afghanistan and will continue its assistance to Afghanistan until it needs it,” said Minister Brown.

President Karzai was also a guest of Oxford University, where he spoke before students and faculty. The President spoke about the partnership between the UK and Afghanistan and illustrated the drastic positive changes in Afghanistan that resulted from the engagement of British soldiers and civilians. The President also said that Afghanistan and Pakistan must cooperate sincerely in order to wipe out al-Qaida and the Taliban.  "Pakistan and Afghanistan must begin to cooperate sincerely," he said. "We must pay attention to the sanctuaries of terrorism in Pakistan."

The President’s delegation included Foreign Minister Dr. Rangin Dadfar Spanta, National Security Advisor Dr. Zalmai Rassoul, and Ambassador of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan to the Court of St James’s Dr. Rahim Sherzoy.

To watch a video of President Karzai’s press conference with Prime Minister Gordon Brown, CLICK HERE

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