Bush Reports on Trip to Afghanistan, South Asia
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, March 4, 2006 President Bush used his weekly radio address today to report on his visit to Afghanistan and South Asia.
Bush said he is pleased with the progress and changes in Afghanistan. The country harbored Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda terrorist group. It was in Afghanistan that al Qaeda planned the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.
"I was thrilled to see firsthand the incredible transformation that has taken place there," he said. He called the Taliban a brutal regime that terrorized its own people and oppressed women.
"Today, the terror camps have been shut down; women are working; boys and girls are back in school; and 25 million people have now tasted freedom," he said.
Bush praised Afghan President Hamid Karzai and the "vibrant young democracy" that is growing in a blighted section of the globe.
During the trip, Bush visited American servicemembers stationed in Afghanistan. "It was a privilege to thank them in person for their courage and for the sacrifice of their families back home," he said. "These fine Americans are standing watch for liberty halfway across the world, and I told them that all Americans were proud of them."
After Afghanistan, the president and his party flew to India where he held talks with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and concluded an agreement to share civilian nuclear technology. India, which has not signed the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, agreed to bring its civilian programs under the safeguards of the International Atomic Energy Agency. Bush said the agreement was good for American security and for American companies.
The president's final stop was Pakistan. The country is a frontline state in the war on terrorism and has worked closely with U.S. and Afghan officials to stop al Qaeda and the Taliban, Bush said. Bush said he appreciates Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf's position and his strong support against terror. "Since he joined the fight against terror, President Musharraf has faced several attempts on his life, yet President Musharraf has not faltered," Bush said. "He understands that the terrorists are a threat to the peace and security of the Pakistani people and the world.
Bush said the relationships with the three nations are important to long-term American security. "By working with these leaders and the people of these three nations, we're seizing the opportunities this new century offers and helping to lay the foundations of peace and prosperity for generations to come," he said.