Rumsfeld to Afghan People: 'U.S. Maintains Its Commitment'
By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, July 18, 2006 An open letter from Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld to the people of Afghanistan praises the strides their new government has made and assures them of the United States' continued commitment to its success.
Rumsfeld recently returned from his 11th trip to Afghanistan and said he was impressed during his meetings with President Hamid Karzai, his Cabinet, the governor of Zabul province and U.S. troops deployed there.
"I came away impressed by their determination and the progress that has been made on the political, economic, and security fronts," he wrote in a letter submitted to Afghan newspaper editors for publication.
"The United States maintains its strong commitment to Afghanistan's success," Rumsfeld wrote. He noted that increased NATO involvement in Afghanistan will strengthen U.S. and coalition contributions. "In fact, with NATO, Afghanistan will have the support of not only the United States, but 25 new friends, each committed to success for the Afghan people," he wrote.
Rumsfeld acknowledged that progress may not appear to be taking place as quickly as some people would like. "It is sometimes easier to see the progress being made from a distance," he wrote. "It is clear to most outside observers that Afghanistan has come far since its liberation in 2001."
He noted that an Afghan he spoke with during his recent trip recalled the days of the Soviet occupation, when schools were closed and two generations of Afghans were denied the opportunity to get an education. "It is important to remember how much you have overcome and how much you have accomplished," he wrote.
Rumsfeld promised the Afghan people that the United States will stand with them as they build on this progress. "May the coming year bring you even greater success in building a future of hope and opportunity for you and for your children," he wrote. "We look forward to continuing our strong partnership."