Welcome to our e-newsletter Vol. 59 October 2008  

Afghanistan Congratulates President-Elect Obama: President Hamid Karzai and Ambassador Said T. Jawad today President- and Vice President-elect Barack Obama and Joseph Biden on November 5 for their victory in the 2008 election. "The election of Barack Obama to the presidency is a truly historic event. His candidacy has generated tremendous enthusiasm, and energized many young people in the United States and all over the world," said Ambassador Jawad. MORE

President Karzai Attends UN Interfaith Meeting: On November 12-13, President Hamid Karzai attended an interfaith dialogue on religion, culture and common values at the United Nations in New York. The event, officially called the "High-Level Meeting on the Culture of Peace," was hosted by King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia and attended by more than 54 heads of state and other high government officials. UN Secretary-General Ban-Ki Moon and UN General Assembly President Miguel D'Escoto opened the meeting. MORE

Afghanistan and Pakistan Address Terrorism Challenges: Representatives from Afghanistan and Pakistan met in late October on two seperate occasions to jointly address the threat of terrorism to the two countries. In both meetings, Afghan and Pakistani officials vowed to work more closely to fight terrorists and extremists that have launched an increasing number of deadly attacks in the two countries this year. MORE

U.S. Report Finds Declines in Opium: A report released on October 24 by the U.S. Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) found that opium production in Afghanistan declined by 31 percent in 2008. The report also found that opium cultivation experienced a similar drop of 22 percent. The report declared that the number of provinces that are now poppy-free increased from 15 in 2007 to 18 in 2008 (of 34 provinces), and that opium poppy cultivation has all but been eradicated in most of Afghanistan�s North and East. MORE

Afghanistan Participates in IMF/World Bank Meetings: From October 11-15, the Afghan government delegation comprised of Minister of Finance Anwar ul Haq Ahady, Deputy Minister of Finance Wahidullah Shahrani, Governor of Da Afghanistan (Central) Bank Abdul Qadeer Fitrat and First Deputy Governor Mohibullah Safi jointly attended the International Monetary and Finance Committee (IMFC) meetings during the annual meeting of the World Bank and IMF in Washington, D.C. MORE

Ambassador Jawad Speaks at World Affairs Council: Ambassador Said T. Jawad spoke at the World Affairs Council of Northern California in San Francisco on October 24, discussing Afghanistan's progress over the last seven years and assessing the current security challenges the country faces. In addressing the rising number of security incidents in Afghanistan in 2008, Ambassador Jawad stated, "There are serious security challenges now...Afghans do not feel safe." MORE

Afghan-American Chamber of Commerce Hosts Event: On October 21-22, the Afghan-American Chamber of Commerce (AACC) hosted the Fourth Annual U.S.-Afghan Business Matchmaking Conference in Washington, D.C. During the conference, attendees were able to explore business opportunities and hear speeches on economic development and investment potential in Afghanistan." MORE & MORE

'Hidden Treasures' Exhibit Opens in San Francisco: Ambassador Said T. Jawad attended the opening of the critically acclaimed exhibit "Afghanistan: Hidden Treasures of the National Museum, Kabul" in at the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco, California on October 24. The exhibit contains 228 historic artifacts from Afghanistan dating back over 4,000 years that were hidden away during the Soviet invasion and rule of the Taliban, only to be uncovered in 2003. MORE
Afghanistan Showcased For First Time at MINExpo: From September 22-24 Commercial Attach� Khaleda Atta, Trade & Investment Officer Murtaza Bahrami and U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) Co-Coordinator of the Afghanistan Project Said Mirzad attended the quadrennial MINExpo 2008 at the Las Vegas Convention Center. While there, they handed out informational CDs, fact sheets and full studies on the opportunities available in the mining sector of Afghanistan to an international audience of over 40,000 people. MORE

Afghanistan Business News - Trade, Awards and Initiatives: On October 8 the U.S.�Afghanistan Trade & Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) Council met for the first time in Kabul ... The Afghanistan Investment Support Agency (AISA) and the Export Promotion Agency of Afghanistan (EPAA) have both won international awards ... On October 10, Commercial Attach� Khaleda Atta attended the launch of the global "Adolescent Girls Initiative" at the World Bank on behalf of Afghanistan, one of the six beneficiaries of this newly established public-private partnership program. MORE
Political Counselor Speaks to Wilton Park Conference: Political Counselor M. Ashraf Haidari participated in the Wilton Park Conference on "Public Diplomacy: Meeting New Challenges" on October 7 in the United Kingdom. Haidari spoke on "Challenges and Opportunities for International Engagement," and noted the importance of public diplomacy (government-to-people engagement) in the context of stabilization and reconstruction efforts in Afghanistan. He pointed out three key opportunities for international public diplomacy in Afghanistan, which he said had yet to be fully taken advantage of. MORE
Afghan Refugee Awarded French Literary Prize: An Afghan who fled his country 24 years ago carrying a few crumpled bank-notes has been awarded France's premier literary prize. Atiq Rahimi, 46, took the 2008 Prix Goncourt - the French equivalent of the Mann-Booker prize - with his first novel in French, a stark essay on the oppression of women in Afghanistan. Mr. Rahimi is the second foreign-born writer to win the Goncourt in the last three years. Rahimi, who has dual French and Afghan nationality, said yesterday that he regarded his Goncourt victory as "a sign of recognition both for my work and the story of my life." MORE
BBC Reports on Literacy Programs in Helmand: Over the last seven years, access education has expanded dramatically across Afghanistan. On November 11, the BBC reported on a school in Helmand Province that provides vital literacy classes to 1,100 boys and 600 girls. The Khalai Kohna High School in Lashkar Gah looks to fight insecurity through much-needed education. MORE
Angelina Jolie Appeals for More Afghan Returnee Aid: The UN refugee agency's Goodwill Ambassador Angelina Jolie traveled to Afghanistan in late October to visit with Afghan returnees and advocate for additional aid for Afghan refugees and those who return home. "The courage, resilience and quiet dignity of returnee families rebuilding their lives against the kind of adversity few of us can imagine shows the human spirit at its best," Jolie said. MORE
In Other News: Drew University Soccer Star Leaves Taliban Behind (Daily News) ... Deep in Taliban Territory, a Push for Electricity (New York Times) ... Once Mighty Afghan Air Force Struggles to Rebuild (Canadian Press) ... Meet Afghanistan's Motorcycle Police (U.S. News and World Report) ... Karzai Opens Kabul Air Terminal (BBC) ... Afghans Find Modest Prosperity in Once-Banned Trade – Milk (CSM) ... First Afghan Windfarm Holds Promise for Progress (NATO) ... ICC Rewards Afghanistan's Winning Run With Funding (Yahoo!) ... Afghan National Security Forces Show Progress (Newswire). MORE

Embassy in the News: This month, Ambassador Said T. Jawad was interviewed on the BBC World News, wrote a letter to the Christian Science Monitor defending President Karzai's leadership, appeared in a Frontline documentary and spoke about the exhibit "Afghanistan: Hidden Treasures of the National Museum, Kabul." Political Counselor Ashraf Haidari published an op-ed in the Asia Times and was quoted in an article in the Financial Times. To read these and other articles and op-eds, please click Embassy in the News.


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