Statement by Ambassador Crocker from Remarks Delivered at the Afghan Government Media Information Center
January 24, 2012
A free and independent media plays a vital role in any democracy by keeping the public well informed of key issues, as do government spokespersons who provide accurate information to those who report the news.
Afghanistan’s media and the government spokespersons who interact with it – but do not control it – are important elements in our close bilateral relationship.
And it is a close, multi-dimensional relationship that is vitally important to both our countries. That is why we are negotiating a long-term Strategic Partnership that will affirm our mutual commitment far into the future. Afghanistan will not be left alone.
Simply put, the United States is committed to supporting the efforts of the central government, to build a strong, secure, democratic, and unified Afghanistan. We have no other aim or goal.
Rumors that the United States has a plan to divide Afghanistan or change its form of government are, frankly speaking, lies that dishonor the sacrifice of more than 1,800 American service members who have died in the cause of a unified Afghanistan, governed by its Constitution.
It is for the same cause that American taxpayers have provided billions of dollars over the past decade, supporting the government and people of Afghanistan in re-building this country, supplying electricity, improving health, and giving access to education, as well as our support for the Afghan Government Media Information Center. We will continue this important work with our Afghan partners through our long-term strategic partnership.
Let me also address another false and absurd rumor: that the United States is seeking a secret deal with the Taliban at the expense of the Afghan government and people.
As you know, Ambassador Grossman was just in Kabul. During his visit, we engaged in a comprehensive discussion on the way forward with President Karzai, his senior advisors, and with the leadership of the High Peace Council.
Afghanistan and the United States both support a peace process for Afghanistan. But only Afghans can decide the future of Afghanistan.
President Karzai, in his speech to Parliament, spoke in support of opening an office in Qatar for the Afghan Taliban. For a peace process to succeed, Afghans must talk to Afghans. The President also spoke of Afghan government contacts with representatives of Hizb-i Islami. This is another example of an Afghan-led process that we are pleased to support.
As Secretary Clinton said after she met the Qatari Foreign Minister earlier this month, nothing has been concluded on the opening of an office, and more work needs to be done.
As Ambassador Grossman said, that work includes first, direct contact between Qatar and Afghanistan on the subject of the opening of any office.
Secondly, for an office to open, we also need to have a clear statement by the Afghan Taliban against international terrorism and in support of a peace process to end the armed conflict in Afghanistan.
And for reconciliation to take place, we are in full agreement with the Government of Afghanistan that three conditions must be met by the Taliban and other armed insurgents: a complete break with al-Qaida; an end to violence; and respect for the Afghan constitution, including its protections for women and minorities.