Welcome to our e-newsletter Vol. 53 April 2008  

NATO Nations Commit to Afghan Security at Bucharest Summit:   Leaders from NATO countries traveled to Romania early this month for the alliance’s the annual summit. The mission in Afghanistan was on the top of the agenda, with several new commitments announced and a major recommitment to Afghanistan’s security by the attendant nations. The allied nations reiterated on April 3 their "firm and shared long-term commitment" to Afghanistan and pledged to aid a transition to Afghan forces by boosting their training. MORE

Foreign Minister Spanta Meets with French and Canadian Counterparts: Foreign Minister Dr. Rangeen Dadfar Spanta met with French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner and Canadian Foreign Minister Maxime Bernier during their April 12-13 visit to Afghanistan. The three Ministers discussed the security situation, the pace of reconstruction, and the upcoming donors’ conference in Paris. MORE
Second Vice President Karim Khalili discusses Afghan Security during Visit to the U.S.: Second Vice President of Afghanistan Mohammad Karim Khalili traveled to the U.S. on an official visit from April 14-26. During the tenure of his visit, Vice President Khalili met with U.S. Vice President Cheney and several senior members of the U.S. Administration and Congress where he discussed on the ongoing international rebuilding effort in Afghanistan as well as the recent political and security developments in the country.   MORE
Minister of Rural Rehabilitation and Development Zia Highlights National Solidarity Program during U.S. Visit: Minister of Rural Rehabilitation and Development Mohammad Ehsan Zia traveled to the U.S. from April 14-26 to participate in a conference at George Mason University. The conference, “US/Canadian Engagement in Afghanistan,” brought together numerous scholars and field practitioners to discuss the state of Afghanistan’s security and development missions in order to further analyze the “whole of government approach.” MORE

Minister of Finance Ahady & Governor of Central Bank Fitrat Conclude World Bank Spring Meetings: Afghanistan’s Minister of Finance Anwar ul-Haq Ahady and Governor of the Central Bank of Afghanistan, Abdul Qadeer Fitrat concluded yesterday their official visit to the Spring World Bank/IMF meetings in Washington, D.C. In private meetings and a public event at the Center for American Progress, the officials gave a detailed update of Afghanistan’s economic profile. MORE

Afghan Governors Meet with President Bush During Cross Country Tour: Eight Afghan governors are on a cross-country tour of the United States in a public diplomacy campaign to create a dialogue between Afghan and American public officials. The 8 governors are meeting state and city leaders in Washington, Nebraska, New Mexico and California to discuss the U.S. system of federalism and election processes. The Governors arived on April 7 and will travel across the U.S. for three weeks. MORE
Afghan Athletes Train for Beijing Olympics: Afghanistan will once again send a delegation of athletes to the Olympics, These courageous athletes have braved insecurity to train around the clock and represent their country on the global stage. Rohullah and Habib Nikpah are brothers who will both be competing for medals in taekwondo; Masood Azizi is a runner, and ran in the 2004 games in Athens; runner Ms. Mehboba Andyar will compete in the 1,500- and 3,000-meter events. MORE
Queen Victoria Voyage Focuses on Afghanistan During Maiden World Cruise: In early April, Ambassador Said T. Jawad held a series of lectures about Afghanistan on board the Queen Victoria, the “most famous ocean liner in the world.” Queen Victoria is the newest ship to join Cunard Cruises, with the most advanced technology and innovations of any ship on the sea. Cunard has been sailing since 1840, and invited Ambassador Jawad on board for the second year in a row to help raise awareness about the situation in Afghanistan. MORE
National Geographic and the National Gallery Launch Hidden Treasures of Afghanistan Websites: The National Geographic Society (NGS) in collaboration with the government of Afghanistan, will organize a traveling exhibition of the re-discovered treasures from the Kabul Museum – extraordinary collections long thought to have been destroyed or stolen. 231 artifacts will travel to four major cities within the United States in a 17-month period. AFGHANISTAN: Hidden Treasures will introduce the audience to the “Silk Road”: a metaphor for the exchange of goods and ideas across Asia which peaked in the first century CE. MORE

OP ED: The Hill: Afghanistan, Forget me not: There are fronts in the fight against terrorism that are fought without firing a single shot and are won without fanfare or media attention. One such victory is on the horizon. Before the Senate adjourned for its Easter recess, legislation (S. 2776) was introduced by Sens. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), Kit Bond (R-Mo.), Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.), and Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.) that would authorize President Bush to designate Reconstruction Opportunity Zones (ROZs) in Afghanistan and the border regions of Pakistan. MORE

Ambassador Jawad Addresses USGS Forum on Mineral Resources in Afghanistan: Policymakers, potential private investors, and the public received valuable new information today to help identify fault lines and the potential location of undiscovered water, oil and gas, and non-fuel mineral resources in Afghanistan. Data were collected by U.S. Geological Survey scientists, who flew over Afghanistan and conducted an airborne geophysical and photographic survey of the country. On April 30, survey data was unveiled at The Embassy of Afghanistan in Washington, D.C. MORE

Afghan Governors Meet with Governor Schwarzenegger: Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger met with the visiting delegation of eight Afghan governors on April 22 to discuss trade and security.The governors are spending five days in California during their three-week visit to the U.S. to learn about federalism, American elections and agriculture. MORE

Embassy of Afghanistan Legislative Update for April 2008: This month, Democratic lawmakers delivered a letter to President George Bush on April 4, urging him to refocus the fight against terror on Afghanistan and Pakistan. Afghanistan was a consideration of both House and Senate Armed Services and Foreign Relations Committee Hearings this month. Afghanistan’s Second Vice President Karim Khalili, Minister of Finance Anwar Ul Haq Ahady and Minister of Rural Rehabilitation and Development Mohammad Ehsan Zia met with top leaders in both the House and Senate. Embassy Officials published an Op-Ed on the benefits of Reconstruction Opportunity Zones (ROZ’s) in The Hill. The Hill also reported that most members of Congress elected in 2006 have been to Iraq but not Afghanistan. MORE

OP ED: Pajhwok News: NATO's most critical mission: When citizens of NATO allies look at the record of failure of military interventions in Afghanistan over the past century and a half, they may be tempted to ask: What chance of success does NATO have? People should realise, however, that comparing the present-day stabilisation mission to past military adventures is not appropriate. MORE

First Lady Laura Bush Addresses Afghan Student Leaders at Young Atlanticist Summit: Future leaders from both the Euro-Atlantic region and Afghanistan convened on the sidelines of the NATO summit in Bucharest to discuss the major security issues facing the Atlantic Community today. Over 120 students and young professionals from NATO and Partnership for Peace countries participated, as well as some of the best students from the University of Kabul and the American University of Afghanistan. MORE

Political Counselor Haidari Discusses Peace and Security in Afghanistan at Emory and McGill Universities: This month Political Counselor M. Ashraf Haidari addressed audiences in Montreal, Canada and Atlanta, Georgia about security and reconstruction in Afghanistan and the greater South Asia region. On April 3, he spoke on “Afghanistan’s Relations with India, Pakistan, and the United States: Partnership for Regional Peace and Prosperity” at the Claus M. Halle Institute for Global Learning at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia. MORE

AISA Gets World's Second Best Investment Promotion Agency Award: The Afghanistan Investment Support Agency (AISA) won the World's second best investment promotion agency award at the World Investment Conference 2008 in Accra, Ghana on April 18 2008. The award, jointly given by the World Association of Investment Promotion Agencies (WAIPA) and the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), recognized AISA as an investment promotion agency that developed, in a very short period of time, to a world class organization. MORE

BBC Journalist's Trip to the Minaret of Jam was "Worth Every Difficulty": Late last year, after a decade of failed attempts to make the journey, I drove 14 hours across Afghanistan to look upon one of the architectural wonders of the world. The road east from Herat had long given way to dumpy tracks and rocky riverbeds when suddenly - through a cleft in the looming cliffs - I caught my first glimpse of the minaret of Jam, a fragile sliver of tapering, man-made beauty dating from the 12th century and set among momentous mountains. MORE

National Public Radio Spotlights NOOR TV: Four brothers under the age of 35 are running a 24-hour Afghan TV station out of a warehouse in Hayward, Calif. Since July 2007, the Yousefzai brothers have brought a mix of drama, music, education and cooking shows to their audience. MORE

New U.S. Marines Lead Assault in Helmand: As part of the promised spring deployment of an additional 3,200 U.S. marines to Afghanistan, the U.S. military launched a major assault in Helmand province in conjunction with British troops. The new push comes in response to a spike in violence in 2007. MORE

Photographer exposes the Bay Area to “The Other Afghanistan”: “The Other Afghanistan,” an exhibit of photographs by award winning photographer Gloriann Liu will be on display in San Francisco from April 4 to June 30. A graduate of Wichita State, Liu has been a photographer and photography instructor for over 20 years. Her recent work has been focused on raising global awareness of social issues like women’s rights, the rights of children, and poverty. MORE

Wall Street Journal: Afghans Build an Army, and a Nation: From a hard and arid plain about a 30-minute drive out of downtown Kabul, a squad of Afghan soldiers is mounting an attack on a small rise to the south. Three soldiers lie flat on their stomachs, providing covering fire as four of their comrades rush forward, Kalashnikovs in hand. Shots are fired, startling a visiting columnist. MORE

The Music of the Reeds: The Life of Rumi: In a time of conflict, his was a voice for peace and the brotherhood of man. Born in present day Afghanistan in the Middle Ages, Jalaludin Balkkhi, or Rumi as he would come to be known, was one of the Persian Empire’s greatest poets. His humanist views on the universality of God’s love stood in stark contrast with the holy wars of his era and continue to be a philosophical influence throughout the world. MORE

Embassy in the News: This month, Ambassador Said T. Jawad spoke to the Christian Science Monitor about building the Afghan National Army. Minister of Finance Ahady spoke with CFR.org about Afghanistan's economic future. Embassy officials published an Op Ed in The Hill encouraging U.S. lawmakers to support the creation of Reconstruction Opportunity Zones. Political Counselor Ashraf Haidari published Op Eds on security and NATO in EurasiaNet, Pajhwok, and Diplomatic Traffic, as well as letters to the editor in the Washington Post, Baltimore Sun, and Washington Times. To read or watch these interviews, please click Embassy in the News.


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