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Freedom for Afghanistan

Aired May 1, 2003 - 10:36   ET


LEON HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: Right now, what you're looking at is a speech that is being delivered by the president of Afghanistan. He is there, seated next to Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld in Kabul, Afghanistan.
HAMID KARZAI, PRESIDENT OF AFGHANISTAN: We had detailed discussions about various aspects of the success in Afghanistan and of what we plan to do ahead in our fight against terrorism and in bringing more peace and stability to the country. We had a good meeting with the members of our cabinet, as well.

Secretary Rumsfeld is welcome to Afghanistan. He's bringing us today further good news that he'll talk about. And I welcome him again and give him the floor.

DONALD RUMSFELD, SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: Thank you very much, Mr. President. I am delighted to be back in Afghanistan. As I drove in from the airport I was impressed with the marked change that I've seen. It may not be as apparent to people who are here continuously, but for me to come back after many months now and see the progress, to feel the energy in the street, to see the kiosks and people active and cars moving around and young children coming and going, people on the street, it is a measure of the progress, it's a measure of the success that's taking place here. And needless to say it warms the hearts of those of us who have wished this country well and look forward to the continued progress of the Afghan people.

The president of the United States and General Franks and I have been looking at the progress that's being made in this country and in cooperation with President Karzai have concluded that we're at a point where we clearly have moved from major combat activity to a period of stability and stabilization and reconstruction and activities.

The bulk of this country today is permissive, it's secure. It is clear that that's the case by virtue of the fact that we see people returning to their country from all across the globe.

KARZAI: In large numbers.

RUMSFELD: In large numbers. They're voting with their feet. They're saying that the circumstance here is something they want to be a part of, and that's a good thing.

I should underline, however, that there are still dangers, there are still pockets of resistance in certain parts of the country. And General McNeill and General Franks and the cooperation they have with President Karzai's government and leadership and Marshal Fahim's assistance we will be continuing as a country to work with the Afghan government and the new Afghan national army to see that any areas where there is resistance to this government and to the coalition forces will be dealt with promptly and efficiently.

RUMSFELD: I would like to say one other thing, and that involves what we're calling the provincial reconstruction teams, or PRTs.

The United States, along with some coalition countries and the officials of Afghanistan, are in the process now, I think, of having rolled out three of these PRTs. They have plans for what, General McNeill, four, five or six more, I think.

And our hope is that by taking into the important parts of this country teams of people that can contribute to security, but even more important, contribute to the lives of the people in those provinces by way of hospitals or schools or medicines or roads -- all the things that might be needed -- that these PRTs can play a constructive and useful role.

President Karzai has been deeply involved in working with General McNeill as to how these teams are fashioned, as to where they go, and to the kinds of activities they're engaged in.

They have been very well received in the three locations where they've started. We're hopeful that as we are able to attract other countries to participate that we'll find additional PRTs moving out and contributing to an improved circumstance for the Afghan people.

And, President Karzai, I again want to thank you for your leadership, for your cooperation in the global war on terror, and for your hospitality today.

KARZAI: Most welcome. Most welcome. We wanted you to stay longer, but you're leaving.

HARRIS: All right, we're going to step away from this right now. The press conference you've been seeing with Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld is appearing there, with Afghanistan's president Hamid Karzai. There we did hear the news of this announcement, that there are some three what are called provincial reconstruction teams that are already in place right now, and their work has actually been very well received in trying to contribute to the security, building of roads and hospitals and schools in certain areas of the town -- of the country, rather. And now we're hearing there will be four to six more of those teams put together and dispatched throughout the country.


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