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Transcripts and Remarks

U.S. Ambassador Karl W. Eikenberry Remarks at the Lease-Signing Ceremony for U.S. Consulate Heart

December 16, 2009 | Herat, Afghanistan

Just 15 days ago, President Obama made an historic speech about the United States’ commitment to Afghanistan.  He put it very clearly: we seek a partnership with Afghanistan grounded in mutual respect.  We will, he said, forge a lasting friendship in which we are your partner.

I can think of no better way to demonstrate our enduring commitment to Afghanistan than today’s event.  There are few diplomatic exchanges more significant than the opening of a U.S. Consulate.

There are few occasions more important and symbolic in the friendship of nations than for a U.S. Ambassador to be able to stand before you and announce with great pride, as I do today, that the U.S. Government is establishing a Consulate in "Shahr-e Bostan Herat" – this ancient, wonderful city of Herat.

When the U.S. Government first considered its options for opening Consulates, there was never any doubt that the ancient crossroad of Herat would be one of the cities selected for extending U.S. representation within Afghanistan.

Let there also be no doubt that the U.S. commitment to Afghanistan is long-term.  We will not let Afghanistan down in its time of need.

Since last spring, when we first identified properties that might serve as a future U.S. Consulate, the 5-Star Hotel property literally stood out as the most logical and usable space to lease until we could buy land and build a more permanent Consulate compound. 

Signing this lease today brings us one big step closer to opening the Consulate in Herat.

Let everyone understand: Our aim in Afghanistan and in establishing U.S. Consulate Heart is to promote peace and security, prosperity and stability.

Our interest is to promote good governance and justice, and closer people-to-people ties – to strengthen that partnership that President Obama spoke about.

We are excited at the prospect of supporting commercial and economic development, and the full, free exchange of information and ideas. 

We also see the Consulate facilitating more educational exchanges and cultural programs in the future.

Our history and experience of diplomatic relations with many countries shows that our diplomatic presence brings economic opportunity for many as it promotes stronger governance and rule of law to all.  We are a country founded on such principles and values.  Opening Consulate Herat is a tangible reflection of our commitment to such common interests. 

This ceremony, following as it does upon the signing ceremony several weeks ago for the lease of land permitting the opening of another U.S. consulate in Mazar-e-Sharif next year, affirms America’s enduring friendship with Afghanistan and its people.

We are confident that the American people, Afghanistan and the City of Herat will benefit immensely from our opening a Consulate.

From the people of the United States, whom I have the deep honor to represent, to the people of Herat, I say thank you for this historic agreement today.  Thank you for your friendship. 

And thank you for the opportunity to show the world yet again today that the very close friendship that America and Afghanistan enjoy will help eliminate the threat of international terrorism and militant extremism from returning to Afghanistan, and leave the Afghan people the true arbiter of their future.