Thank you, Mr. President, and thank you colleagues for your support of Afghanistan.
Today, I would like to emphasize the importance of the progress made by the Government of Afghanistan and the international community’s commitment to the Afghan people. The road to peace and stability for Afghanistan remains challenging. The Afghan people are still threatened by the Taliban, international terrorists, other violent extremist groups and criminals. Afghanistan’s electoral system is in need of serious reform. Economic growth must be increased. Corruption and abuses of human rights continue to be matters of grave concern.
And yet, even in the face of these challenges, it is clear that extraordinary gains continue to be made in Afghanistan. These gains must and will be maintained. This was the focus of a High-Level Event convened by Secretary Kerry, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, and Afghan Chief Executive Dr. Abdullah on the margins of the UN General Assembly meetings.
The international community must remain committed to complement advances made by the Afghan government and support a path to peace, stability, and economic growth across the region. Governance and development will remain the foundation for stability and progress in Afghanistan. We will continue to support President Ghani and the national unity government as they pursue critical reforms.
We welcome the appointment of new provincial governors, and encourage President Ghani to continue his work to combat corruption, strengthen institutions, complete reforms, and uphold the rule of law.
On the economic front, the government has made it a priority to expand connectivity across the region, which we welcome. Numerous energy, trade, and infrastructure initiatives are underway, including the CASA-1000 electricity transmission line.
It is our hope that at the Heart of the Asia conference in Islamabad this December, we will all consider further ways to make progress on a comprehensive regional economic agenda.
As President Obama said last month, our commitment to Afghanistan and its people endures.
Our forces remain engaged in two specific but critical missions – training, advising, and assisting Afghan forces; and conducting and supporting counterterrorism operations to ensure that Afghanistan will never again serve as a safe haven for terrorism. This resolution is an example of our shared commitment, and we look forward to its adoption.
It is critical that the international community both reaffirm its commitment to a prosperous and peaceful future for Afghanistan, as well as send a strong message of support to its government and most of all, to its people, who have suffered so much.
Over the next year, my government looks forward to working with the diverse coalition of Afghanistan’s friends and partners to chart the future of international security, economic, and political commitments to Afghanistan.
Two conferences, in Warsaw in July and in Brussels in October, will serve as the focal points for this engagement.
The Afghan people’s unyielding spirit and strong commitment to a better future for their children are reminders of what a strong Afghan government and international support can accomplish.
Not long ago, Afghan girls received little or no formal education. Today, millions of girls sit in classrooms. That matters, because access to education for girls has proven to be one of the most important measuring sticks for progress in any country.
It matters as well that Afghan women, once confined to their homes, now serve as cabinet ministers, parliamentarians, judges, security officers, and business leaders. It matters that a whole new generation of Afghans is eager for the chance to move their country forward, to find a place in the global community and the global economy, and to innovate and to start new businesses that will create employment and prosperity for decades to come.