U.S. President George Bush and Afghan President Hamid Karzai met at the
White House to talk about improving security in Afghanistan and
expanding the Afghan army. VOA White House Correspondent Scott Stearns
has the story.
At what is likely to be their last White
House meeting, President Bush praised President Karzai's service to his
country, saying he admires the Afghan leader's determination to succeed.
want to let you know that the United States is committed to the people
of Afghanistan. We will stand by your side and do the hard work
necessary to achieve our objective. And our objective is for you to
become a thriving democracy and to deny al-Qaida and other extremists a
safe haven or a base from which to launch their murderous attacks," he
Al-Qaida terrorists responsible for the September 2001
attacks in New York and Washington were backed by what was then the
Taleban-led government in Afghanistan. U.S. forces toppled that
government in 2002.
U.S. troops make up the bulk of the NATO
mission in Afghanistan fighting Taleban militia, some of whom U.S.
military officials say are based across the border in Pakistan.
this month, Mr. Bush announced that a Marine battalion scheduled to go
to Iraq in November will instead be sent to Afghanistan. That battalion
will be followed in January by an Army combat brigade.
their Oval Office talks, President Bush and President Karzai had a
video conference with Afghan governors and members of U.S. provincial
reconstruction teams in Afghanistan. Mr. Bush said those teams are a
central part of a counter-insurgency strategy that combines economic
development, education, and security to help President Karzai's young
"No question it's
difficult. But if you listen to the people who are actually on the
ground working with the citizens of Afghanistan on matters such as
agriculture or education or infrastructure, you will understand why I
said that there is progress and promise and hope," said Mr.
There have been difficulties between the
Bush administration and the Karzai government, chiefly resulting from
public anger over the deaths of Afghan civilians killed by U.S. troops
President Karzai thanked President Bush for his friendship, his support, and his patience.
have yelled at times. I have been angry at times. But you have always
been smiling and generous. And that is so nice of you," he said.
Karzai says Afghanistan has made more progress in the last six years
that it would have made in 50 or 60 years under the Taleban. He says
infant mortality is down and national reserves of $180 million in 2002
now total more than $3 billion.