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Ambassador Jawad Emphasizes Solutions in Speaking Engagements

In two recent speaking engagements in Washington, D.C., Ambassador Said T. Jawad emphasized the need for a continued international commitment in Afghanistan in 2009 and articulated a number of initiatives to address pressing security challenges. He also expressed his desire to work closely with the incoming administration of President-elect Barack Obama.

At an event at the CATO Institute on December 11, Ambassador Jawad discussed three measures to improve security in 2009 -- a surge of international troops, the growth of the Afghan security forces and engagement with the Taliban. On the issue of a troop surge, Ambassador Jawad argued that the number of international and Afghan troops in Afghanistan was never high enough for the mission of securing the country. An increase of capable international troops would allow for wider deployment in Afghanistan, more surgical operations and give time for the Afghan National Army (ANA) to grow.

In relation to the ANA, Ambassador Jawad pointed out that it has reached 76,000 troops and is set to grow to 134,000 in the next five years. Seen as an effective and well-respected institution, the expansion of the ANA will allow it to take over more operations throughout the country in the coming years. In engaging the Taliban, Ambassador Jawad noted that clear parameters must be set, and that no power-sharing agreement would be struck. Agreeing to the principles of the Afghan Constitution and renouncing violence are two non-negotiable pre-conditions for re-joining society, he said.

At an event at the National Defense Intelligence College on December 15, Ambassador Jawad stressed that the U.S. and its international partners should not reduce expectations or set lower goals for Afghanistan. Speaking to a large group of soldiers, intelligence officials and law enforcement personnel, Ambassador Jawad argued that the initial goals for Afghanistan were modest to begin with, and that the international community should not shortchange the Afghan people by lowering expectations for security, development and democracy. He stressed that more, not less hope should be given to the Afghan people.

In both events Ambassador Jawad spoke of the 2009 presidential elections in Afghanistan. He noted that voter registration has started and is proceeding well, and pointed out that while the elections will be costly and difficult, any alternative would be worse. Neither the international community nor the Afghans should seek shortcuts, compromises or Plan B's to the elections, he argued.

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