Thank you, Foreign Minister Gemba. We also thank Prime Minister Noda, Madam Ogata, and the Japanese Government not only for welcoming us here but for the great generosity and leadership Japan continues to show in helping Afghanistan move forward into the transformation decade. We also recognize Secretary General Ban, President Karzai, our Afghan Co-chairs Foreign Minister Rassoul and Finance Minister Zakhilwal, along with representatives of Afghanistan’s civil society who are here, because after all, what we are talking about is the future of the men, women, and children of Afghanistan. And I am delighted they are part of this conference.
I also want to commend all who have produced the three principles of the document, starting with the Afghanistan strategic vision for the transformation decade called Towards Self-Reliance. I really compliment our Afghan friends for an excellent job. And then the Tokyo Declaration and the Tokyo Mutual Accountability Framework are translating our goals and our commitments into a path that we can follow together and help hold each other accountable.
This conference represents the culmination of nearly two years of intensive work. Beginning in 2010 in Lisbon, continuing in Istanbul last fall, Bonn in December, Chicago in May, and Kabul just a few weeks ago, Afghanistan and the international partners have charted a responsible end to the war and the transfer of full responsibility for security back to Afghanistan.
Together, we have made pledges to meet the needs of the Afghan National Security Forces. Like a number of countries represented here, the United States and Afghanistan signed a Strategic Partnership Agreement that went into effect four days ago. And I was pleased to meet with President Karzai in Kabul yesterday morning, where I announced that Afghanistan is now officially designated a major non-NATO ally of the United States. As President Karzai said, we have to make the security gains and the transition irreversible, and the United States is committed to this enduring partnership.
Now, here in Tokyo we are focused on the economic development and governance advances that we hope to make together. Because we know Afghanistan’s security cannot only be measured by the absence of war; it has to be measured by whether people have jobs and economic opportunity, whether they believe their government is serving their needs, whether political reconciliation proceeds and succeeds.
And Afghanistan has made substantial progress with the help of the international community, as Madame Ogata and others have already outlined. But now we have to ensure the strongest possible collaboration among four groups so that this decade of transformation can produce results: the Afghan Government and people, first and foremost; the international community; Afghanistan’s neighbors; and the private sector. This collaboration depends on mutual accountability, and all sides have work to do and responsibilities to uphold.
As President Obama has said, as Afghanistan stands up, it will not stand alone. Let me speak briefly about each group’s role.
Obviously, the future of Afghanistan belongs to its government and its people. And I welcome the clear vision presented by President Karzai and the Afghan Government today for unlocking Afghanistan’s economic potential by achieving a stable democratic future. That must include fighting corruption, improving governance, strengthening the rule of law, increasing access to economic opportunity for all Afghans, especially for women.
On this point, let me emphasize that the United States believes strongly that no nation can achieve sustainable peace, reconciliation, stability, and economic growth if half the population is not empowered. All citizens need to have the chance to benefit from and contribute to Afghanistan’s progress, and the United States will continue to stand strongly by the women of Afghanistan.
President Karzai has made a strong public commitment to stamping out corruption, implementing key reforms, and building Afghanistan’s institutions. We will support him and the government in that endeavor to enable Afghanistan to move toward self-reliance and away from dependence on donor assistance.
As Afghans do their part, the international community must do ours, by making concrete pledges of economic support to ensure that Afghanistan meets its fiscal needs in the critical post-transition period.
I am very pleased that Prime Minister Noda has confirmed that $16 billion is available from the international community through 2015. This is sustained economic support that will help Afghanistan meet its fiscal needs even as assistance declines. The United States will request from our Congress assistance for Afghanistan at or near the levels of the past decade through the year 2017. And our assistance will create incentives to help the Afghan Government meet mutually agreed reform goals.
In addition to the international community, Afghanistan’s neighbors have an especially key role to play. I’ve spoken before of the vision of a New Silk Road in which Afghanistan is firmly embedded in the economic life of a thriving South and Central Asia. Nothing offers a more credible alternative to insurgency than the jobs and opportunities that come with foreign investment and the expansion of markets. Increasing regional trade will open up new sources of raw materials, energy, and agricultural products—not just for Afghanistan but for all nations in the region. And we are delighted to see this vision coming to light through the Istanbul Process and various regional trade and transit agreements.
The last essential ingredient to a successful economic transition and transformation is the private sector, because that will be key for driving growth, creating jobs, and supporting the kind of reform that needs to be sustainable. We look to the Afghan Government to follow through on their reform commitments, and we look to the international community to do what we can to draw business and investment to Afghanistan. Last month in new Delhi, in anticipation of today’s conference, hundreds of companies attended an investment summit.
So the key pieces are there. The private sector interest is there. The Afghan Government’s commitment to fight corruption and strengthen the rule of law is there. The international community’s support, as evidenced by this conference, is there as well. And the growing partnership between Afghanistan and its neighbors is also growing.
We need to put those commitments together in order to achieve the future that is worthy of the sacrifice of the Afghan people and many nations represented around this table. The future has got to be what the Afghan people have forged for themselves, and we need to make sure that we do everything to make that a reality.
Thank you very much. (Applause.)
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