|U.S. to Help Afghanistan Develop Military|
U.S. to Help Afghanistan Develop Military
By Linda D. Kozaryn, American Forces Information Service.
Washington D.C. -- (AFPS) January 28, 2002 -- President Bush announced today that the United States would help Afghanistan set up and train its own military.
The United States will continue to be a friend to the Afghan people in all the challenges that lie ahead, the president pledged to Hamid Karzai, Afghanistan Interim Authority chairman, during the Afghan leader's first visit to the United States.
"Both of us have made the decision that Afghanistan must, as quickly as possible, develop her own military," Bush said. U.S. Central Command's chief, Army Gen. Tommy Franks "fully understands and is committed to this idea," he added.
Bush and Karzai appeared in the Rose Garden following a White House meeting. The president praised Karzai as a determined leader, a man who stood for freedom in the face of tyranny. Led by Karzai, he said, Afghanistan's interim government "reflects the hopes of all Afghans for a new and better future, a future free from terror, free from war and free from want."
The United States will work closely with peacekeepers from around the world that are helping provide security on the streets of Kabul, the president said. U.S. officials will also support programs to train new police officers.
Bush also announced that the U.S. Overseas Private Investment Corporation will provide an initial $50 million line of credit for Afghanistan to finance private sector projects. Earlier this month, the United States pledged to provide $297 million this year to create jobs and to help rebuild Afghanistan's agricultural sector, health care and educational systems.
After thanking the president and the American people for their support, Karzai said Afghanistan is a good partner and will stay a good partner. With the help of the United States and other nations, he said, Afghanistan will defend its borders and not allow the return of terrorism.
"We will be self-reliant, will do good in business. We'll have a strong country," Karzai assured the president.
The people of Afghanistan have suffered in much the same way as those Americans involved in the Twin Towers terrorist attack, according to the Afghan leader, who led his nation's offensive against the Taliban and the Al Qaeda terrorist network.
"We have sympathy," he said. "We know the pain. We understand it. Our families know that pain. Therefore, this joint struggle against terrorism should go to the absolute end of it. We must finish them. We must bring them out of their caves and their hideouts, and we promise we'll do that."
Karzai said anti-Taliban forces continue their search for terrorist leader Osama bin Laden. "We are looking for him. He is a fugitive. If we find him, we'll catch him."
Responding to press queries about the detainees under U.S. control, Bush said he is looking into the legalities involved with the Geneva Convention. No matter what decision he makes, he said, America's national security team agrees that the detainees will not be called prisoners of war. He said they're illegal combatants who would be treated humanely.
The Al Qaeda "is not a known military," he stressed. "These are killers. These are terrorists. They know no countries. The only thing they know about countries is when they find a country that's … weak, they want to occupy it like a parasite."
Bush noted that Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld visited Guantanamo Bay yesterday, accompanied by senators from both political parties. He said Rumsfeld reported that U.S. troops guarding the detainees are "valiant in their efforts" to make sure the detainees " were held in such a way that they were safe."
One troop, he noted, commented that the detainees are receiving very good medical care.
Asked why the United States is not contributing troops to peacekeeping forces in Afghanistan, Bush replied that the United States is providing logistical and intelligence support to the peacekeeping mission. In the long run, he said, helping Afghanistan develop its own military is better than contributing peacekeepers for a short term.
"Let's have Afghanistan have her own military," he concluded.
Related Site of Interest:
- Remarks by the President and Chairman of the Afghan Interim Authority Hamid Karzai, the White House, Jan. 28, 2002.