Obama, Karzai Sign Partnership Agreement in Kabul
By Cheryl Pellerin
WASHINGTON, May 1, 2012 - President Barack Obama and Afghan President Hamid Karzai signed an agreement that commits the nations to negotiating and building a strategic partnership that will frame their future relationship.
Just after midnight May 2 local time, sitting at a table in front of U.S. and Afghan flags at the presidential palace in the Afghan capital of Kabul, the leaders signed the strategic partnership agreement.
"I've come to Afghanistan to mark a historic moment for our two nations and to do so on Afghan soil," Obama said.
"I'm here to affirm the bonds between our countries, to thank American and Afghans who have sacrificed so much over these last 10 years, and to look forward to a future of peace and security and greater prosperity for our nations," he added.
Neither Americans nor the Afghan people asked for the war, the commander in chief said, yet for a decade both nations have worked to drive al-Qaida from its camps, battle an insurgency, and give the Afghan people a chance to live in dignity and peace.
"The wages of war have been great for both our nations," Obama said, "but today with the signing of this strategic partnership agreement, we look forward to a future of peace."
Karzai thanked the people of the United States for the help given his own people over the decade, as well as U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan Ryan C. Crocker and Marine Corps Gen. John R. Allen, commander of International Security Assistance Force and of U.S. Forces Afghanistan.
He also thanked Obama for bringing the partnership agreement to Afghanistan for signing, and the nations who are part of the ISAF coalition.
"They worked with us, helped us, supported us, ... and of course the people of Afghanistan will never forget their help and their support and also their relationship," Karzai said. "With these countries, we will have a new start with these relationships."
In the legally binding strategic partnership agreement, according to a White House fact sheet on the document, Obama sought to define with the Afghan government the landscape on the other side of the transition there and the completed drawdown of U.S. forces by the end of 2014.
The agreement is a signal of the United States' long-term commitment to Afghanistan and represents a common vision for the relationship and Afghanistan's future, the fact sheet says. According to the document, U.S. commitments to support Afghanistan's social and economic development, security, institutions and regional cooperation are matched by Afghan commitments to strengthen accountability, transparency and oversight, and to protect the human rights of all Afghans -- men and women.
The agreement includes mutual commitments in the areas of protecting and promoting shared democratic values, advancing long-term security, reinforcing regional security and cooperation, supporting social and economic development, and strengthening Afghan institutions and governance.
"Together, we've made much progress. ... With this agreement, the Afghan people and the world should know that Afghanistan has a friend and a partner in the United States," Obama told Karzai.
Obama also paid tribute to the Afghans who lost their lives alongside men and women of the United States who sacrificed all for their country.
The United States came to Afghanistan with a clear mission -- to destroy al-Qaida, he said. "We have enormous respect for Afghan sovereignty and the dignity of the Afghan people," he added. "But together we're now committed to replacing war with peace and pursuing a more hopeful future as equal partners."
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