(A photo from the press conference is available at http://www.defenselink.mil/photos/Dec2003/031204-F-2828D-616.html.)
Karzai: Ladies and gentlemen (Inaudible.) a very good friend Secretary Rumsfeld is here in Afghanistan visiting (Inaudible.) and Kabul and bringing to us good messages of continued support and assistance from the United States. Getting acquainted once again, further in detail with adverse situation. Hearing about the progress of Afghanistan and (Inaudible.) that we have here today. We talked about terrorism, we talked about reconstruction, we talked about how better to improve the security here in this country and the (Inaudible.) and national police amid other things.
I’m glad that he’s here with us today again I wish him all the best. My (Inaudible.) to him the United States assistance that we have received (Inaudible.) more than $2 billion dollars of assistance that U.S. has just announced to us in the past weeks that (Inaudible.) and for the role that he have now and for the roles that he have as official to this assistance (Inaudible.) Afghanistan.
Rumsfeld: Thank you. Good to see you again.
Rumsfeld: Thank you very much President Karzai. It’s a pleasure to be back in Afghanistan.
Last month I believe marked the second anniversary of the liberation of your country and there has been truly remarkable progress of freedom and opportunity obviously and visibly taking root.
I spent the morning in Mosar (Inaudible.) and that would the governor and the acting police chief and General Atta and General Dostum. I also had an opportunity to meet with the Colonel Davis of the U.K. led provisional reconstruction team and get a sense of the progress, the contribution that they’re making, which is I believe impressive.
I discussed with the two Generals the progress that’s been being made with respect to the movement of heavy weapons and disarmament. I’ve had also today a good meeting with the Minister of Defense Fahim Khan and discussed the forums taking place in the Defense Ministry, which is considerable since I was last here.
The meetings in Brussels I might just say very briefly -- in many instances were about Afghanistan and the work that NATO is now doing in assuming responsibility for the international security assistance force and fulfilling the requirements from the NATO nations so that they’re able to perform those responsibilities. And I met today with the Commander of ISAF as well and had a chance to get his perspective on the progress they’re making.
We also discussed the possible next steps for NATO and under discussion, as I’m sure you’ve heard the possibility of NATO’s expanding and taking responsibility for some provincial reconstruction teams outside of Kabul. And we also raised the issue as to whether at some point NATO obviously with the United States involved might take an even larger role with respect to the coalition efforts in the country. There’s no definition of that, there’s no timetable. It is simply a thought that made those discussions. I should add that what’s been done by NATO in Afghanistan is an enormous step for NATO. Never in the 50 year history of that organization have they ever been indulged in anything outside of the NATO treaty area and this their first activity of this type is important for them. I understand that it’s important for Afghanistan as well but it should also be seen as something that is an important step for the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.
I will close simply by saying that we are impressed with the progress that’s being made with respect to the constitution and the (Inaudible.) process, which is coming up in a matter of days, I believe later this month. And I congratulate you and your associates on that important progress as well. Thank you.
Moderator: Any questions.
Rumsfeld: No questions.
Q: How do you feel about the possibility of (Inaudible.)? Do you think that the Taliban (Inaudible.)?
Rumsfeld: Who are you asking?
I don’t consider myself the expert on that subject but several of you are but I’ll just say that with respect to the second portion of the question I can’t imagine that there will be any type of a delay from the standpoint of what you suggested in the south. I think that the capabilities that exist in the country are such that while they’re always maybe incidents from time to time but the capabilities that exist and the role that can be played by both Afghan forces as well as coalition forces ought to be able to manage anything like that quite well.
Karzai: To add to Secretary Rumsfeld’s remarks, Afghanistan is going to move ahead with (Inaudible.) people. This country has begun on a path and that path is one of freedom and participation might Afghan people in determining their future. We, together in this national community have a responsibility here in the Afghan environment to provide the means for Afghan people to cast their (Inaudible.). I’ve been speaking to you today with launched military situation in Afghanistan. We will try our best to provide the country the best means of security and wish that Arab international communities (Inaudible.).
The Taliban terrorism (Inaudible.) that they are will not be able to stop the process. If you’ve heard about the personal relations (Inaudible.) begin a month in a half ago and as we’re talking today elections in 3 provinces are going on without any security incident. The determination that we have we’ll do well.
Q: President of Rumsfeld (Inaudible.). Now this means U.S. combat troops will leave this country (Inaudible.) and if so does it mean U.S. will leave this country with unstable (Inaudible.)?
Rumsfeld: No and no. It doesn’t mean either of those things. First of all any future additional role for NATO is open to discussion and consideration within NATO. The role of the (Inaudible.) is the international security assistance force and they’re fully capable of doing that. They would have to increase their capability were they to extend that, I tried at Kabul, which they are actively discussing and considering and where they (Inaudible.) from beyond that clearly U.S. forces would be involved. President Bush has been very clear. The United States has coalition forces in there, we’re working with I don’t know how many other countries, it’s got to be 16, 17, 18, 20 countries in a very broad coalition. The President has said we will continue to assist in a manner that is appropriate so that the Afghan people can set their country on a path towards democracy and freedom and economic opportunity for the people here. And no matter what the role NATO might take the greater the NATO role they’re likely U.S. will be a part -- we’re a part of NATO, we would be involved in that role.
Karzai: Another question.
Q: Secretary Rumsfeld (Inaudible.)?
Rumsfeld: We had a good discussion about the work of the provincial reconstruction team. We had a discussion about the fact that they have both agreed to the program for turning in heavy weapons and the disarmament program. There have already begun walking down that path and we certainly acknowledge that and encouraged it. We believe that that’s an important step for this country to have the heavy weapons brought in and turned in and become I suppose, the ones that are usable, available to the Afghan National Army one would hope. I’m a very conservative person with money so I hate to see them just wasted.