By Sgt. Sara Wood, USA
WASHINGTON, Sept. 26, 2006 – The fight in Afghanistan is part of a global struggle, and America has the will to do the hard work necessary to help that country eradicate terrorism and build a better life for its citizens, President Bush said here today. "Our country will stand with the free people of Afghanistan," Bush said to Afghan President Hamid Karzai during a joint news conference at the White House. "I know there are some in your country who wonder ... whether or not America has got the will to do the hard work necessary to help you succeed. We have got that will."
The Afghan people know firsthand the nature of the enemy in the war on terror, because they see violence every day, Bush said. Taliban and al Qaeda remnants continue to try to bring down the Afghan government and stop democratic progress, he said, but the people of Afghanistan have rejected extremism.
"Afghan forces are fighting bravely for the future of Afghanistan, and many of your forces have given their lives," Bush said.
During today's meeting, Bush said, the two leaders reconfirmed their commitment to working together for peace and discussed their efforts to secure the future of Afghanistan. The U.S. is helping Afghanistan build effective and accountable government agencies, build roads, form a national literacy program, and build schools and medical centers, Bush said.
Karzai expressed his gratitude to the American people for all the progress made in Afghanistan in the last few years. He said he visited Walter Reed Army Medical Center earlier this week and was very impressed to meet a female soldier who had left behind six sons to help build roads in Afghanistan.
"There is nothing more that any nation can do for another country, (than) to send a woman with children to Afghanistan to help," Karzai said. "We are very grateful."
The strategy against terrorism is working in Afghanistan, Karzai said, although it is natural to face difficulties along the way. Four years ago, the coalition ousted the Taliban from power and then conducted operations to arrest them and get them off the streets, he said. Since then, the Afghan government and the coalition have been working to rebuild the country and bring stability to the people, he said.
"The desire is to do that sooner, but a desire is not always what you get," he said. "So it will take time, and we must have the patience to have the time spent on getting rid of them for good."
Narcotics continue to be a problem for Afghanistan, Karzai acknowledged, but the government is working on it and has made progress in some areas. The Afghan government is committed to eradicating narcotics and will work with the U.S. and the international community to make it happen, he said.
Bush said that tomorrow he is hosting a dinner with Karzai and with Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf to discuss efforts toward peace and democracy in the region. These two leaders have common interests in bringing Osama bin Laden to justice and building a stable Middle East, he said.
"There is an understanding that by working together, it is more likely that all of us can achieve a common objective, which are stable societies that are hopeful societies, that prevent extremists from ... stopping progress and denying people ... a hopeful world," he said.