Karzai Thanks Bush, American People for Support
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Aug. 6, 2007 Afghan President Hamid Karzai today thanked President Bush and the American people for helping liberate and secure his country. (Video)
President George W. Bush, left, shakes hands with Afghanistan's President Hamid Karzai following their address to the media at a joint press availability Aug. 6, 2007. White House photo by Eric Draper
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
“I'm here today to once again thank you and the American people for all that you have done for Afghanistan, for our liberation first, and then for our stability and prosperity,” Karzai said in a news conference at Camp David, Md., following meetings with Bush. “We have gone a long way.”
Bush praised Afghanistan as an ally in the war on terrorism. “I appreciate your strong stance for freedom and justice,” he told Karzai.
“We're working closely together to help the people of Afghanistan prosper,” Bush said. “We work together to give the people of Afghanistan a chance to raise their children in a hopeful world. And we're working together to defeat those who would try to stop the advance of a free Afghan society.”
Bush and Karzai both spoke of the security strategy for Afghanistan. Eight months ago, Bush pointed out, people were speculating about the Taliban spring offensive, “about how the Taliban had regrouped and were going to go on the attack inside Afghanistan.”
“There was a spring offensive all right,” he said. “It was conducted by U.S., NATO and, equally importantly, Afghan troops.”
The allied offensive against the Taliban and their al Qaeda cohorts continues, Bush said. And Afghan security forces are playing a greater role in the effort. About 110,000 Afghans are serving in the army and police force, with more volunteering every day.
“It's in the interests of the United States to help you develop the … national army and local police,” Bush said. “That will send a clear message to the people of Afghanistan that the governments can help provide an opportunity for people to raise their children in a peaceful world.”
Bush congratulated Karzai on the meeting that Afghan and Pakistani leaders will hold Aug. 9. The “jirga” will gather representatives from the two countries in Kabul to talk about reconciliation and how they can work together to find solutions to problems.
While there has been significant progress in Afghanistan, much remains to be done, Karzai said. The enemy, though defeated, still hides in the mountains of the country.
“Our duty is to complete the job, to get them out of their hideouts in the mountains and to bring justice to the people of Afghanistan, to the people of America, and to the people around the world who are threatened by these terrorists,” Karzai said.
Though many still suffer in Afghanistan because it remains one of the poorest countries on Earth, many Afghans have a new lease on life, Karzai said.
“We have a long journey ahead of us, but what we have traveled so far has given us greater hope for a better future, for a better life,” he said. “The Afghans are still suffering, but there are millions of Afghans who are enjoying a better and more secure life, who can send their children to school and who can work in their fields. And thank you very much for that.”