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Remarks at American Embassy in Kabul

Secretary Colin L. Powell
Kabul, Afghanistan
January 17, 2002

AMBASSADOR CROCKER: Good morning, ladies and gentlemen. Welcome to you, Mr. Secretary. This is an historic moment in US-Afghan relations and for the American presence in Afghanistan. It has been more than a quarter of a century since the Secretary of State has stood on these steps, and for half that time this Embassy has been closed.

Well, we're back in business and we're going to stay that way. We have a very long and challenging road ahead of us in the campaign against terror. It won't be easy, nor will it be easy to help build the strong, secure and stable Afghanistan that is the goal of all of us.

And I am very happy to be able to tell you, Mr. Secretary, that as we set out on this effort that the men and women of this mission are extremely proud to be your forward element.

Thank you.

SECRETARY POWELL: Well, thank you very much, Ambassador Crocker, and to you, Ambassador Khalizad and all of the members of the mission. I want to offer my congratulations and deepest appreciation for the superb work that you have been doing under the most difficult of circumstances.

I am pleased to be the first US Secretary of State to have been here in some 25 years, particularly on this occasion when we have just received permission from President Bush to redesignate this facility from the United States Liaison Office to American Embassy Kabul. So, as the Ambassador said, we are back in business. We are here to stay. We are committed to the future of this country.

We have seen a lot in the last several months as we threw off the yoke of the Taliban regime, as we have gone after the al-Qaida. That job is not yet finished and we will stay with it until it is finished. But we are already looking to the future. We are looking to a future of hope for the Afghan people. We are looking at the possibilities that are ahead for the people of Afghanistan. We are looking to develop a stable country that lives in peace with all of its neighbors. President Bush and the American people are committed to providing the humanitarian relief that is necessary. We are committed to reconstruction.

I will be leaving here to go to India, and then from India on to Tokyo, where I will participate in a donors conference. The international community coming together in Tokyo in order to make pledges to Afghanistan, but more importantly, to the people of Afghanistan that the international community is with you now and in the future.

And so it is an honor for me to be here, not just to open the Embassy once again and to see our flag flying proudly, but also to pause and thank the Afghan employees of the United States who have kept this facility intact, kept our vehicles intact. We have never lost faith that we would be back.

We are so proud of all our Foreign Service Nationals who are here today and the beautiful children who have also come out to share this occasion, and I thank you for your commitment to your country and to America over these intervening years that we have not been able to be here. We are back and we treasure your service and your sacrifice, and we look forward to your loyalty in the future as well.

Ambassador Crocker, I thank you for your service; Ambassador Khalizad for the work that you are doing here. And for all of you I bring you thanks from the American people, and especially from President Bush. Thank you.

I have a special recognition award I would like to now make: For unparalleled dedication and loyalty to the people of the United States of America during the most difficult circumstances from January 31st, 1989, through December 17th, 2001, this Special Afghanistan Service Recognition Award is presented to the employees of the American Embassy in Kabul as an expression of the appreciation of the Department of State and the American people. During this period, the Afghan employees of the American Embassy continued to protect and maintain United States Government property in Kabul with no American presence, culminating in a massive and successful effort in December 2001 to prepare the chancery to reopen in time for the installation of the Afghan interim authority.

So I am very pleased to present this to you, and to you, sir, and through you, to all of the other employees. And thanks for your service. (Presentation of Award.) (Applause.)

SECRETARY POWELL: And this is a special pleasure. It is a replacement certificate, and I will read it. It is to Mr. Nawab Ali and it is a 1996 Award, a 1996 Foreign Service National of the Year Award. He received this. He is very proud of it. It was destroyed by the Taliban, and it is now my pleasure to give him a replacement with our heartfelt thanks. (Presentation of Award.) (Applause.)

 



Released on January 17, 2002

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