Welcome to our e-newsletter Vol. 42 May 2007  

Prime Minister Stephen Harper Assures President Karzai that Canada is Determined to Win the Peace in Afghanistan: On May 22 President Hamid Karzai received Canada’s Prime Minister Stephen Harper. Prime Minister Harper met with Afghan officials and visited Canadian troops and Afghan students. “The world must remain engaged in Afghanistan until the country manages to stand on its own feet or terrorists will strike again,” said President Karzai during a joint news conference. MORE

Ankara Declaration a Step Forward in Regional Relations: President Hamid Karzai and his Pakistani counterpart Gen. Pervez Musharraf met in Ankara Turkey on April 30 for a summit on improving regional relations hosted by Turkish President Ahmet Necdet Sezer. The two leaders agreed to increase co-operation against terrorism and narcotics smuggling and promised better intelligence sharing between the two countries. "This meeting will help us create a climate of trust between Afghanistan and Pakistan," said President Karzai before his arrival in Turkey. MORE
Foreign Minister Spanta Receives Italian and German Counterparts: Italian Foreign Minister Massimo D'Alema visited Afghanistan in late May in preparation for a July 3 conference in Rome on Afghanistan's justice system. D'Alema met with Italian soldiers in Afghanistan, where Italy has 2,000 troops stationed, and held consultations with Foreign Minister Dr. Rangin Dadfar Spanta. Dr. Spanta reiterated Afghanistan’s appreciation for contribution of Italian government in stabilizing and rebuilding of Afghanistan, in particular Italy’s active involvement in the Afghan judicial system. MORE
Ambassador Said T. Jawad Discusses Aid Effectiveness at the Center for American Progress: Ambassador Said T. Jawad briefed a private audience at the Center for American Progress on May 11. The Ambassador’s remarks focused on aid effectiveness in Afghanistan’s post-conflict reconstruction, but also encompassed how reconstruction must be increasingly interwoven with military operations, why the Taliban’s spring offensive has not materialized, and investing in infrastructure, public health and humanitarian relief to ensure greater security. MORE

U.S. President and NATO Secretary-General Pledge to Reduce Civilian Casualties: On May 21 U.S. President George W. Bush and NATO Secretary-General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer pledged to try to reduce civilian casualties in Afghanistan. The two top officials met at the President’s private ranch in Crawford, Texas. President Hamid Karzai has spoken out publicly against the rising civilian death toll from U.S. and NATO operations. President Bush reiterated U.S. support for the Afghan people, and said that U.S. and NATO troops would exercise more caution in the field, blaming the Taliban for using human shields. MORE

Afghanistan’s Parliament Joins the Inter-Parliamentary Union: On May 5, Afghanistan became the 149th member of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU). A 16-member delegation of Afghan parliamentarians attended the 116th assembly held in Jakarta, Indonesia. Meshrano Jirga Chairman Hazrat Sibghatullah Mujaddedi delivered remarks. MORE

Afghanistan Freedom and Security Support Act Will Provide Country with Crucial Resources for Reconstruction and to Fight Terrorism: On May 23, the House Committee on Foreign Affairs approved H.R. 2446, the Afghanistan Freedom and Security Support Act (AFSSA), authorizing $1.6 billion per year over the next three years for development, economic and security assistance programs in Afghanistan. Co-sponsored by Chairman Tom Lantos (D-CA) and ranking member Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), the measure reaffirms America’s long-term commitment to Afghanistan and renews the landmark 2002 Afghanistan Freedom Support Act. MORE

Fourth Annual Development Forum Convened in Kabul: The fourth annual Afghanistan Development Forum (ADF) was held in Kabul from April 29-30. This year’s ADF brought together the Afghan Government and the international donor community to tackle subjects that are crucial to Afghanistan's sustained development. The Afghan Government presented priority strategies for three key sectors: Health, Education and Energy. MORE

Ambassador Said T. Jawad Applauds ASCHIANA Foundation and Germany for their Contributions to Afghanistan: On May 24 Ambassador Said T. Jawad joined German Ambassador Klaus Scharioth and the distinguished guests of the German Embassy to celebrate the achievements of the ASCHIANA (“The Nest”) Foundation. ASCHIANA is an Afghan Non-Government Organization that has provided services, support and programs to street children and their families for close to ten years. ASCHIANA operates six centers across Kabul, servicing close to 3000 children. MORE

U.S. President Appoints War Czar for Iraq and Afghanistan: U.S. President George W. Bush selected Army Lt. Gen. Douglas Lute to serve as war czar for Iraq and Afghanistan on May 16. The war czar will report directly to the President and will work closely with Stephen Hadley, the President’s National Security Advisor. Lt. Lute will be tasked with coordinating military and civilian operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. MORE

Polish Troops to Join the Fight Against the Taliban: On May 23 Polish Defense Minister Aleksander Szczyglo visited Kandahar to meet with the 1,300 highly-trained Polish troops that are set to join NATO forces in Afghanistan. The troops are completing drills to reach peak combat readiness and will formally begin their patrol mission in the southern and eastern regions of the country in early June. MORE

Ambassador Said T. Jawad Addresses World Affairs Council of Washington, DC: Ambassador Jawad spoke to an audience of World Affairs Council of Washington, DC at the Center for Strategic and International Studies on May 23. The Ambassador focused on the security situation in Afghanistan, and outlined the country’s security strategy in the wake of new waves of Taliban violence. MORE

Distinguished Afghan Writer Khaled Hosseini Releases Second Novel:On May 22, Khaled Hosseini’s new novel, “A Thousand Splendid Suns,” was released in the U.S. The novel is a breathtaking story set against the volatile events of Afghanistan’s last thirty years—from the Soviet invasion to the reign of the Taliban to the post-Taliban rebuilding—that puts the violence, fear, hope, and faith of Afghanistan in intimate, human terms. MORE
Queen Mary 2

Ambassador Said T. Jawad Discusses Afghanistan On Board the Queen Mary 2: In early May, Ambassador Said T. Jawad held a series of lectures about Afghanistan while on board the Queen Mary 2. The Queen Mary 2 is an elegant 1,132 foot-long, 157,000 horsepower Cunard cruise ship. Cunard has been sailing since 1840, and began a new chapter of its distinguished history in inviting Ambassador Jawad on board and by helping to raise awareness about the situation in Afghanistan. MORE

OP ED: Canada Needs to Keep its Troops in Afghanistan:  Canadians are growing increasingly jittery about their country’s military participation in Afghanistan. A majority of Canadians now wonder if the political cost of maintaining troops in Afghanistan is too high. They should realize that the cost of not being there would be even higher. According to a recent public opinion poll, 55 percent of respondents favor a pullout of Canadian troops from Afghanistan, if the casualty rate continues to climb. Meanwhile, more Canadians oppose their government’s handling of the war (48 percent) than approve of it (44 percent). MORE

Study Finds Public Health Improving as Afghans Celebrate International Midwives’ Day: Johns Hopkins University has released a study that charts a marked decrease in infant mortality in Afghanistan. Improvements in women's access to medical care in the last five years have led to 40,000 fewer infant deaths a year, a drop of 18%. The study attributed the lower infant mortality to the expansion of health clinics to rural areas, improvements in natal care, an increase in trained health workers, and improved coverage of the population with basic vaccinations against measles, polio and tetanus. MORE

Embassy Participates in Counter Narcotics Roundtable at U.S. Institute of Peace:   Political Counselor M. Ashraf Haidari discussed, “Afghanistan’s Drug Problem: Costs, Consequences and Counter-Narcotics Strategies,” at the U.S. Institute of Peace (USIP) Afghanistan Working Group on May 15 in Washington, DC. Counselor Haidari focused on the link between increased drug production in Afghanistan and the country’s environment of poverty, instability and weak governance resulting from three decades of war. MORE

Vocational School Opens in Kabul, Major Infrastructure Projects Inaugurated in Kunduz: The Afghanistan Technical Vocational Institute (ATVI), built and administered by Knowlogy International, has opened its doors to 600 new students from Kabul and other urban and rural regions in Afghanistan. The Institute is the first post-war vocational school designed to educate both men and women in skills critical to the future of Afghanistan. The school expects to eventually graduate 5,000 students per year. MORE

Everyday Heroes in Today's Afghanistan: Each day, men and women from the United States and Afghanistan are meeting throughout Afghanistan, from the markets of Kabul to the homes of tribal elders in the northern, southern, eastern and western corners of the country. They come from different backgrounds and different cultures, but what unites them is their shared dream of a prosperous, secure, pluralistic, free Afghanistan. The Embassy will periodically highlight their work in this section of the website. MORE

Building Peace in Afghanistan: The Way Forward: Political Counselor M. Ashraf Haidari spoke with American University Washington Semester students from across the United States on April 24. In a lecture entitled “Building Peace in Afghanistan: the Way Forward,” he focused on the elements of success in peace-building efforts. "If there is one post-conflict international intervention that should succeed, it is Afghanistan," he said.  MORE

Birney Elementary School Learns About Afghanistan: On April 25, Embassy staff participated in the Embassy Adoption Program at Birney Elementary School in Washington, DC. With the support of volunteers from the Washington Performing Arts Society, Embassy event manager Riga Sadeq and interns Dominique Rosaul and Rachel Quist presented a slide show about Afghanistan’s history, culture, arts and education to Mr. Steve Burton’s sixth grade class. MORE

Afghan Communicator Celebrates 10th Anniversary, Honored by New York Mayor: Afghan Communicator has linked together Afghan-Americans in celebration of Afghan culture, literature, art and history throughout the last ten years. In honor of their many accomplishments, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg proclaimed April 23 Afghan Communicator Day. The anniversary celebration was attended by city officials, diplomats, Afghan Communicator staff members and friends. MORE

Demand Increases for Women to Join Afghan Police: The role of women in Afghan society is a complex one. Tradition and a conservative interpretation of Islam relegate most women to the role of subservient wife and mother. Daughters in Afghanistan are often sold or traded into marriage to strengthen tribal ties. But the new, democratic Afghanistan is under pressure to give women the same opportunities that men have — such as allowing them to become police officers. MORE

USAID Launches Afghanistan Now Magazine (pdf): In 2001, when the Taliban were forced out of power, half of Afghanistan's people lived in absolute poverty and were unemployed. Virtually all the country's institutions and much of its infrastructure were destroyed. To rebuild the country and combat terrorism, USAID works to build a safe, stable society that meets the needs of its people and eliminates an environment that breeds extremism. MORE

Legislative Update: At this crucial moment in time, the Embassy of Afghanistan is actively engaging the U.S. Congress to provide the resources and commitment necessary to successfully rebuild Afghanistan. As part of these efforts, we will provide regular updates on meetings with key U.S. Representatives and Senators and legislation pertinent to Afghanistan and the region. MORE

Embassy in the News: This month, Ambassador Jawad appeared on BBC TV and CNN's "This Week at War," while a segment on counter-narcotics featuring an interview with Counselor Ashraf Haidari ran on Voice of America. Also, an Op Ed on Canada's role in Afghanistan was published on EurasiaNet. To read or watch these interviews, please click Embassy in the News.

Investment News: This month, numerous publications covered business and investment opportunities in Afghanistan. The World Bank's Country Director for Afghanistan was interviewed by Radio Free Europe to discuss Afghanistan's economic growth. 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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