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 You are in: Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice > Former Secretaries of State > Former Secretary of State Colin L. Powell > Speeches and Remarks > 2003 > September

Remarks at UN-led Meeting on Afghanistan, United Nations General Assembly

Secretary Colin L. Powell
UN Headquarters
New York City
September 24, 2003

(As prepared)

Mr. Secretary General, distinguished colleagues:  President Karzai and the citizens of Afghanistan are approaching a critical juncture in their efforts to establish the foundation for a free, prosperous and hopeful future. The world community has a strong partner in President Karzai and his team.  Under his leadership, and with our collective support, Afghanistan has made great strides.
In the past 2 years since U.S.-led coalition forces freed the Afghan people from the terrorists and the Taliban, Afghanistan has experienced more stability than has been known for 30 years. Recovery and reconstruction are well underway.  Refugees have come back in droves.  Boys -- and girls -- have returned to school.  The economy is beginning to show true signs of growth. In short, hope has returned to a land that knew nothing but war, tyranny and misery for an entire generation.
It is for all of us to help President Karzai ensure that the hard-won hope of the Afghan people is justified.  It is crucial that we now accelerate the international reconstruction effort in all spheres:  political, economic and security.
Soon, in accordance with the process agreed in Bonn, Afghanistan will adopt a constitution establishing the framework for representative, moderate government. And next year will witness the first national elections under that constitution.  The elections will be a dramatic test of Afghanistan's progress toward fully functioning democracy. It is vitally important that Afghanistan meet this test and that we in the international community help Afghanistan meet it.
Security will be a crucial factor in ensuring that the people of Afghanistan will be able to cast their votes as citizens of a new democracy. Security also will be critical to keeping reconstruction moving in other vital areas.
To accelerate success in Afghanistan, President Bush has committed my country to provide an additional $1.2 billion. That's $1.2 billion beyond the $1.8 billion that previously has been appropriated. Must of this assistance will go to efforts that have an immediate, tangible impact. All areas of the reconstruction effort will be targeted. We will use the funds to step up the pace of recruitment, training, and mobilization of the Afghan National Army. The funds will go to bolstering the national police force and border patrol. They will foster the construction of schools and health clinics. And they will speed the ongoing work on Afghanistan's key transportation routes, including the Kabul-Kandahar-Herat road.
President Bush's commitment of the additional funds is meant to send a clear signal of the United States' continuing, long-term commitment to Afghanistan.  All of us recognize, however, that Afghanistan's success in its massive reconstruction effort cannot be achieved without strong and sustained assistance from others across the international community. President Bush recognizes and deeply appreciates the generous efforts that many of your countries have already made.

The time has come for all of us to redouble our efforts. We must ensure that the money we have already pledged is disbursed without delay. And now is the time to identify and commit new resources. The stakes for all of us are as high as the new-found hopes of the Afghan people. Failure is not an option -- not for the people of Afghanistan, and not for all of us. Afghanistan must never again become a land of oppression and an exporter of violence, hatred, and instability. 
All of us must accelerate our support so that Afghanistan recovers and prospers and becomes a lasting contributor to international peace and security. Thank you.

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