Bush 'Deeply Impressed' With Accomplishments in Post-War Afghanistan
By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Feb. 27, 2003 The presidents of the United States and Afghanistan today discussed post-war reconstruction accomplishments in Afghanistan at a White House meeting.
Afghan President Hamid Karzai is "a courageous leader who's got a clear vision about the future of a country he loves," President Bush declared to reporters in the Oval Office.
Bush said he was "deeply impressed" by statistics Karzai provided. For example, he said, more than 2 million Afghan refugees returned home in the past year and 3 million Afghan children are now going to school. He noted that the number of Afghan pupils was negligible during the Taliban's reign.
"This is tremendous progress," Bush declared. The United States, he added, looks forward to continuing to work with the Afghan government to bring peace and a hopeful future for the citizens."
Karzai thanked Bush and the United States for helping to rebuild his war-torn country's schools and roads and to restore order. But more needs to be done to better the lives of his people and to make Afghanistan still more stable, he remarked. For one thing, he said, the war against terrorism in Afghanistan isn't over.
"We have defeated them, but some enemies are still there," the Afghan president declared. "We should go on, strong and tough, to get them all and free the world from that menace."
A question-and-answer session turned attention to Iraq. A reporter asked Bush if the Middle East would be peaceful today had Saddam Hussein been ousted during the 1991 Gulf War. Bush responded that the mission of the U.S.-led military coalition then was to liberate Kuwait from Iraqi occupation, which was done.
"The mission now is to disarm Saddam Hussein in the name of peace. And we will," Bush pointed out. If the United States is forced to go to war against Iraq, however, the mission will be complete disarmament, but that will mean regime change, he emphasized.
"It's not the mission of 1991," Bush concluded.