Welcome to our e-newsletter Vol. 50 January 2008  

President Karzai Addresses World Economic Forum:   On January 22, President Hamid Karzai attended the Davos World Economic Forum, an annual gathering of corporate leaders in Switzerland. This year’s Forum themes included fighting terrorism, climate change, the Middle East peace process and social networking technology’s impact on the global economy. Formally opening the World Economic Forum, President Karzai highlighted the assassination of Benazir Bhutto as a disturbing example of the global reach and threat of terrorism. MORE

U.S. President Lauds Afghan Progress in State of the Union: U.S. President George W. Bush announced the commitment of 3,200 Marines to Afghanistan and highlighted gains made in Afghanistan’s reconstruction during his December 28 State of the Union address. Much of the speech – an annual assessment of major issues facing the U.S. government – was dedicated to the major domestic and international challenges of the coming year. Emphasizing the gravity of this moment in history, President said that the choices made by this Congress will “affect the security and prosperity,” in the world for years to come.  MORE
First Lady Laura Bush Commends Progress in Education and Health at U.S.-Afghan Women's Council: First Lady Laura Bush focused on the progress that Afghanistan and Afghan women have made in the last six years during a January 18 meeting of the U.S.-Afghan Women’s Council at Georgetown University, citing the 25 percent drop in infant mortality, a 95% inoculation against polio and expanded education opportunities for children. The Council promotes private/public partnerships between U.S. and Afghan institutions and mobilizes private resources to benefit Afghan women... MORE
Foreign Minister Spanta Travels to Japan for JCMB Talks: Foreign Minister Dr. Rangeen Dadfar Spanta traveled to Japan on February 4 for talks ahead of a two-day meeting of the Afghanistan Joint Coordination and Monitoring Board, an international committee that oversees implementation of reconstruction plans. Delegates from 24 countries and international organizations will take part in and to hold discussions on the topics of security and economic development. Foreign Minister Spanta met separately with Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda and Foreign Minister Masahiko Komura to discuss Japan’s contributions to Afghanistan's rebuilding efforts. MORE

Afghanistan Study Group and Atlantic Council of the U.S. Reports Propose Crucial Recommendations for Success in Afghanistan: Reports commissioned by the Afghanistan Study Group and the Atlantic Council of the United States released on January 30 expressed concerns about the current state of affairs in Afghanistan and offered recommendations for the way forward. The following day, this timely re-evaluation of U.S. policy in Afghanistan was the subject of a comprehensive hearing before the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations. MORE

U.S. to Send 3,200 Marines to Afghanistan: The Pentagon announced this month that it will send at least 3,200 Marines to Afghanistan in April 2008. Pentagon Press Secretary Geoff Morrell said that a ground and air Marine contingent as well as a Marine battalion would be deployed to southern Afghanistan for a one-time, seven-month deployment. Currently there are about 27,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan, including 14,000 with the NATO-led ISAF coalition. The other 13,000 U.S. troops in Combined Joint Task Force 82 are training the Afghan security forces and hunting terrorists along the Afghan-Pakistani border. MORE
Presidential Campaigns Weigh in on Afghanistan: On January 25, the Afghanistan Advocacy Group hosted a debate between foreign policy advisers for numerous U.S. Presidential campaigns on the subject of their candidates’ positions on Afghanistan and Pakistan. Advisors to Presidential hopefuls Senator John McCain, Senator Barak Obama and Governor Mike Huckabee participated in the forum, which was held at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. The debate was moderated by Peter Hickman, Vice Chairman of the National Press Club and Mrs. Mariam A. Nawabi, a founding member of the Afghanistan Advocacy Group MORE

All Eyes are on Afghan Rugs at Las Vegas Market: On January 29, the highly anticipated “Afghan Inspirations: Rug Renaissance, Coveted Traditions” was launched by Afghanistan’s Minister of Commerce & Industry Mir Mohammad Amin Farhang, Assistant Secretary of the U.S. Department of Commerce Israel Hernandez and Ambassador Said T. Jawad. The exhibit brought a delegation of authentic rug producers from Afghanistan to exhibit the beauty of the fine art of Afghan rug weaving to a wide audience of international buyers and brokers at the famed World Market Center home furnishings exhibition at the Las Vegas Market. MORE
World's Earliest Oil Paintings Discovered in Bamiyan: This month Yoko Taniguchi, an expert at Japan's National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, announced that the world's first oil paintings go back nearly 14 centuries to murals discovered in Afghanistan. Buddhist images painted on the walls of caves in Bamiyan Province have been dated to around 650 AD, making them the earliest examples of oil used in art history. Many of these murals were damaged when the Taliban destroyed the Giant Buddha statues in 2001. MORE

Kabul Dolls Create Opportunities for Independence: This holiday season, a number of American children received a unique present, a handmade doll wearing traditional Afghan clothes. A beautiful gift with a socially responsible mission, Kabul Dolls is a venture consisting exclusively of Afghan women who create dolls completely by hand. The dolls represent different ethnic groups and regions of Afghanistan and come in three different sizes, with hand-painted faces and unique garments. Each doll is distinctive, reflecting the work of the individual doll maker’s style and talent. MORE

UN Secretary General Argues "Being in Afghanistan is dangerous, not being in Afghanistan is more dangerous": Afghanistan is a potent symbol of the costs inherent in abandoning nations to the lawless forces of anarchy. That alone justifies international efforts to help rebuild the country. Lest there be any doubt, remember Sept. 11, 2001, and its worldwide reverberations. We learned then how a country, shorn of its civic institutions, becomes a vacuum to be filled by criminals and opportunists. In its chaos and poverty, Afghanistan became a home base for terrorism. Must we learn that lesson all over again? MORE

Ambassador Said Tayeb Jawad profiled by Voice of America: This month, Voice of America profiled "A Day in the Life of Ambassador Said Tayeb Jawad." VOA chronicled Ambassador Jawad's life from his childhood in Kandahar, to his days as a student in Europe, his experiences living in the United States and his role as Afghanistan's Ambassador to the U.S. Additionally, the Ambassador and his wife Shamim sat down with VOA's correspondent to discuss the major issues facing Afghanistan today. MORE

OP ED: Afghanistan: The Silk Road to Opportunities: Afghanistan’s economy has been called a “virgin market.” Years of conflict left the country virtually untouched by foreign investment. However, since the fall of the Taliban, investors have found Afghanistan fertile territory, and the economy has grown 10 percent a year, on average, after an initial one-third leap in growth in the first post-Taliban year. Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) has increased each year, and it even doubled from 2005 to 2006. The World Bank predicts that in 2008 strong investment will boost Afghanistan’s GDP growth by 13%. MORE

Political Counselor Ashraf Haidari Addresses National Guard Forces at US Naval Postgraduate School: Political Counselor M. Ashraf Haidari addressed an audience of U.S. National Guard during a January 29 visit to the U.S. Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California. In a speech on security and reconstruction challenges, Haidari told the deploying forces that the Taliban lacks a unifying vision for the country, but they “fully exploit weak state institutions on the district and village level that lack the necessary resources and capacity to deliver basic services to people in southern Afghanistan.” MORE

Embassy of Afghanistan Legislative Update for January 2008: This month the House Armed Services Committee held a hearing titled, "Assessment of U.S. Strategy and Operations in Afghanistan and the Way Ahead" and the Senate Foreign Relations Committee held a hearing titled, "Afghanistan: A Plan to Turn the Tide?" Senator Joseph Lieberman and Representative Marsha Blackburn traveled to Afghanistan this month to assess the current state of U.S. security and reconstruction efforts. After much deliberation and debate, President Bush signed the Defense Authorization Bill. MORE

Ministry of Foreign Affairs Publishes Study on Reconstruction, Stability and Security in Afghanistan: The Center for Strategic Studies (CSS) of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Afghanistan released its 2nd publication in English. This volume contains seventeen papers presented at the first International Conference organized by the Center for Strategic Studies in cooperation with the Hanns Seidel Foundation in April 19-20, 2006. MORE

American University Foreign Policy Students Visit Embassy of Afghanistan: The Embassy of Afghanistan hosted a group of students from the American University Washington Semester Program on January 23. Political Counselor M. Ashraf Haidari led the students in a discussion of the development of Afghan-U.S. relations since early 1980s, and explained the critical role the U.S. has played in helping rebuild the country over the past six years. MORE

Norway Remains Committed to Afghan Mission: On January 15, the Norwegian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Jonas Gahr Støre met with President Hamid Karzai at the Presidential Palace in Kabul. Minister Støre led a high-level delegation to visit Afghanistan, in an effort to emphasize the importance of international support for the country. The visit is part of a currently ongoing process in Norway, of developing a comprehensive plan for its further contributions to the reconstruction of Afghanistan. MORE

University of Hartford Partners with Herat Engineers:  The University of Hartford has been awarded a $1.3 million grant in its ongoing efforts to help strengthen the engineering program at Herat University. The grant will enable 16 faculty members from Herat University to come to the University of Hartford to pursue master’s degrees in civil and mechanical engineering. The first group will arrive later this month and two professors from Herat University have already begun their graduate studies at the University of Hartford. MORE

Embassy in the News: This month, Voice of America profiled a “day in the life” of Ambassador Said Tayeb Jawad. Ambassador Jawad also spoke to PRI’s The World in the aftermath of the Kabul Serena bombing. Additionally, Political Counselor M. Ashraf Haidari published two Op Eds, “Afghanistan: The Silk Road to Opportunities” and “Afghanistan: Beyond the Security Issues the Economy is Booming.” To read or watch these interviews, please click Embassy in the News.

Investment News: This month, numerous publications covered the Afghan rug show at the World Market Center in Las Vegas. To read these articles, please click Investment News

Embassy Events: To view photographs from and read about Embassy events, please click on Embassy Events


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