Welcome to our e-newsletter Vol. 56 July 2008  

Senator Barack Obama Travels to Afghanistan: Democratic senator and presidential candidate Barack Obama (D-Ill.) visited Afghanistan on July 19-20 as a part of a week-long overseas tour. Sen. Obama, who was joined by Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.) and Sen. Jack Reed (D-R.I.), met with U.S. military commanders, American soldiers, and Afghan government officials during his two-day stay. The senator from Illinois has been calling for increased attention to the Afghan front and a sharp increase in the number of U.S. troops stationed there. MORE

Afghan Minister of Health Visits U.S.: At the invitation of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), Dr. Sayed Fatimie, Afghanistan’s Minister of Public Health, came to Washington, D.C. during the week of July 21-25 to meet with U.S. officials, think tanks, and NGOs. During his visit he discussed advances in the country’s healthcare system, identify shortfalls and work with government and non-government partners in outlining areas of future cooperation. MORE

Ambassador and Mrs. Jawad Speak at Sixth & I Synagogue: Over 100 hundred people gathered at the Sixth & I Historic Synagogue in Washington, D.C. on July 17 to hear Afghan Ambassador Said T. Jawad and Mrs. Shamim Jawad speak about Afghanistan’s history, culture and current challenges. Held in the main hall of the spectacular synagogue, the event was moderated by two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning author Steve Coll and provided both a political and personal perspective on events in Afghanistan and the region. MORE

Minerals Provide Economic Potential for Afghanistan: As Afghanistan works to lay the foundations for a strong economy, the mineral sector is proving to have substantial potential for the future. In May 2008, Afghanistan announced that it had signed a 30-year deal with Chinese state-owned Metallurgical Group Corporation (MCG) for the right to explore and mine the coveted Aynak copper deposit in the eastern province of Logar. More recently, Afghanistan announced that mining would begin next year in the Hajigag iron mines located in Bamiyan Province, creating 50,000 new jobs and providing the country with $3 billion in revenue per year. MORE
First Lady Laura Bush Speaks on Afghanistan: First Lady Laura Bush sat down with Fox News on July 29 to discuss her continuing role in promoting development in Afghanistan. Mrs. Bush emphasized the need for education and healthcare in Afghanistan, saying, "Afghanistan needs roads, schools, hospitals and medical centers...to help pull themselves out of poverty." Mrs. Bush promised her continued dedication to the people of Afghanistan, even after she and President George W. Bush leave the White House. She is planning a fourth visit to the country, this time with her two daughters. "This is our chance," said the First Lady. "If we aren’t successful now, when will it happen?" MORE
President Karzai Discusses Key Successes and Challenges: President Hamid Karzai discussed the key successes and challenges in Afghanistan during a wide-ranging interview with Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty on July 12. When asked whether he was satisfied with the progress made in the last seven years, President Karzai expressed optimism while admitting to significant remaining shortfalls, especially in security. "I am very happy that once again Afghanistan has become a home to all of the Afghans. And Afghans of all stripes can return and live in this home. I'm very happy that the people of Afghanistan have created their own new constitution. And the foundations for the new institutions have been laid," he stated. MORE

Afghan Legislators Learn Basics of Free Market Economy:

While many in the Western world take free market economics as something of settled wisdom, policymakers in former Soviet republics have struggled since the end of the Cold War to adapt to a globalized world in which open markets and aggressive competition are the norm. Legislators in Afghanistan are facing these challenges as they attempt to re-build the economic foundations of their country. and they are doing it with the help of the Center for International Private Enterprise. MORE

Foreign Minister Spanta Addresses UN Security Council: Afghanistan's Foreign Minister Dr. Rangin D. Spanta visited New York on July 10 to participate in a high-level meeting at the United Nations Security Council along with the Foreign Minister of Pakistan, Mr. Shah Mahmoud Qureshi, U.N. Special Representative to Afghanistan Kai Aide, other high-level U.N. officials and representatives from 26 countries. The U.N. Security Council convened the meeting to discuss the current security and humanitarian situation in Afghanistan as well as hopes raised by the recent Paris Support Conference. MORE
Afghanistan Celebrates Stellar Achievement: On July 29, Americans celebrated the fiftieth anniversary of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, better known as NASA. In its five decades, NASA has sent men in women into space and to the moon, and has examined the surface of the terrestrial planets with robotic explorers. In Afghanistan, a cosmic anniversary is also approaching. One month from today, Afghans will celebrate the twentieth anniversary of their first trip to space. On August 29, 1988, Col. Abdul Ahad Mohmand became the first Afghan and the third Muslim to travel to space. MORE
Admiral Mullen Visits Afghanistan, Meets Pres. Karzai: Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen visited Afghanistan on July 10 as part of a six-day trip to the region to meet with U.S. soldiers deployed abroad. While in Kabul, Admiral Mullen met with senior members of the Afghan government, including President Hamid Karzai, Defense Minister Rahim Wardak and General Bismillah Khan, Chief of Staff of the Afghan National Army. Discussions were held on the security situation, the recent surge in enemy attacks, the ongoing fight against insurgents, coordination in military operations and prospects for improvements in the security sector. MORE
Political Counselor Haidari Speaks to RAND Corporation: On July 18, Political Counselor M. Ashraf Haidari spoke to the RAND Corporation about Afghanistan's future. "Today, there is much that we may talk about our recent history and the way contemporary international events have affected the conditions in Afghanistan. But I would like to discuss the key challenges facing the Afghan people as we and our international partners strive to secure and rebuild Afghanistan. I believe that four inter-connected challenges with domestic, international, regional, and transnational dimensions impede the stabilization and reconstruction of Afghanistan. Each challenge feeds off the other and together they have engendered a vicious circle. MORE

Legislative Update for July 2008: In July 2008, Rep. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) spoke about the threat of drug production in Afghanistan, Sen. Joseph Biden (D-Del.) and Sen. Richard Lugar (R-Ind.) hosted a conference on U.S.-Pakistan relations, Ambassador Said T. Jawad met with Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) to discuss Reconstruction Opportunity Zones (ROZs), the 2009 State and Foreign Operations Appropriations bill was passed with money for Afghanistan, Minister of Health Sayed Fatimie met with members of Congress and their staff and the U.S. Senate approved an overhaul to U.S. aid to Pakistan. MORE

In Other News: Restoring Past Glory in Old Kabul (Washington Post), Afghan Officials Visit Green Bay (Green Bay Press Gazette), War Memories Fade in Afghan Valley (BBC), Getting Tourists to Afghanistan's 'Grand Canyon' (BBC), To Achieve Stability, Kabul has to First Fly the Nest (Globe & Mail), Rebuilding Afghanistan, One Book at a Time (New York Times), Watching TV in Kabul (New York Times Magazine), Pasadena Retiree Fights Malnutrition in Afghanistan (Los Angeles Times), Afghan Secrets Revealed on Google Earth (Sydney Morning Herald), Afghan Airport to Help Switch Drugs to Fruit (Reuters). MORE

Embassy in the News: This month, Ambassador Said T. Jawad was interviewed on the CBS Evening News with Katie Couric, spoke to PRI's The World and sat down with the Huffington Post. Political Counselor M. Ashraf Haidari wrote letters to the Washington Times and New York Times and published an op-ed in the Middle East Times. To read or watch these interviews and op-eds, please click Embassy in the News.


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