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Foreign Minister Spanta Visits U.S., Signs Joint Declaration with Secretary Rice
May 21: Foreign Minister Dr. Rangin Dadfar Spanta visited Washington on an official visit from May 12-14, 2008. During his visit, Dr. Spanta met with senior government officials and congressional leaders, seeking to highlight issues ranging from the continued need for reconstruction aid to the battle against Taliban extremists.
On Tuesday, May 13, Dr. Spanta met with U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, after which the two signed a joint declaration reaffirming the mutual goals of the U.S. and Afghanistan, including effective security, the conditions for future prosperity, good governance, and a continued fight against illegal drugs. â€œThe United States and Afghanistan have a shared vision for the future,â€ said Secretary Rice. â€œAnd we now, of course, have a shared history. It is a shared responsibility to fight terrorism and extremism and to replace their dark vision with an ideology of hope and democracy and prosperity for all peopleâ€¦the international community after the Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan did not stay with the people of Afghanistan. We will not make that mistake again, Minister. We are committed to Afghanistan. We are committed to its future.â€
After the signing ceremony, Dr. Spanta thanked Dr. Rice and the U.S. for its continued support of Afghanistanâ€™s struggle for peace and reaffirmed Afghanistanâ€™s commitment in fighting for democracy and security. â€œWe are committed to make Afghanistanâ€™s young democracy stronger to bring this country to the family of democracy of the world. And this is our commitment. We work together,â€ he stated. â€œWe have a common enemy, [the] international terrorist network of al-Qaida and Taliban, itâ€™s for the peace and stability and prosperity of the people of the region and worldwide.â€
Dr. Spanta also met with Mr. Dick Cheney, Vice President of the U.S.; Ms. Henrietta Fore, administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID); Mr. Mike McConnell, Director of National Intelligence; Mr. Steven Hadley, National Security Advisor; Rep. Ike Skelton, chairman of the House Armed Services Committee; Sen. Richard Lugar, co-chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee; Sen. Chuck Hagel and Sen. John Kerry, members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee; Mr. John Walters, director of the White House Office on National Drug Control Policy; and Sen. Joseph Lieberman, member of the Senate Armed Services Committee. The Foreign Minister also spoke with the editorial board of the Washington Post.
In an off-the-record briefing for scholars and policymakers at the U.S. Institute of Peace, Dr. Spanta recognized the achievements made in Afghanistan over the last six years while addressing key challenges such as terrorism, drugs, and governance. Dr. Spanta noted that any sustainable solutions to those challenges would require a comprehensive approach focusing not just on security, but also on social issues. He also argued that further progress in re-construction efforts would require a broader strategic plan and stronger coordination between members of the international community and within the Afghan government. Dr. Spanta also welcomed the recent appointment of Norwegian diplomat Kai Eide as the UN Secretary Generalâ€™s Special Representative to Afghanistan, arguing at Mr. Eide understood the importance of international coordination and strategic planning in advancing re-construction and security efforts in Afghanistan.