President Ghani’s Remarks at the Joint Press Conference

President Ghani’s Remarks at the Joint Press Conference

27 September 2017

Presidential Palace


I Welcome Secretary-General of NATO Stoltenberg and Defense Secretary of the United States General Mattis to Afghanistan.

First of all, I thank the NATO member countries for the continuous and sustained support, who have paid the ultimate sacrifices to provide security and fight against terrorism in our country. I particularly appreciate the continued sacrifices of the United States.

As President of Afghanistan, I am also grateful to our defense and security forces for their courage during the last three years. I thank the defense minister, minister of interior, Hanif Atmar and the rest of the leaders and specifically those sons of this soil who have rendered the unrivaled sacrifices for the defense of our land, constitution and religious values.

I would like to thank General Nicholson for his effective role in supporting our security and defense forces.

On behalf of the Afghan people, I thank President Trump and General Mattis, who finalized their strategy on Afghanistan and provided opportunity for success in countering terrorism and creating a political atmosphere for pursuing enduring and stable peace. I thank them because with the new strategy, all ambiguity in Afghanistan and the region is removed.

I also thank NATO’s Secretary-General, Mr. Stoltenberg, a friend of ours for his continued support for the resolute support mission in Afghanistan and his efforts to ensure security in the country.

Now that we have clarity from the US on their strategy, and General Mattis has decided to send new troops to Afghanistan, I hope that other members of NATO will respond positively to the request of General Nicholson and the Secretary-General to support and train the Afghan security and defense forces.

I appreciate my colleagues in the National Unity Government, especially Dr. Abdullah, for his collaborative and effective work in creating a clear path for the future to achieve the goals we are desiring.

In particular, I owe to the people of Afghanistan, who carry the main burden of war on their shoulders. Despite, the suffering at the hands of the Taliban and other terrorist groups, they have shown patience and remained staunch supporters of democracy and the Afghan constitution.

The Taliban and other terrorist groups use civilians as human shield, while our security and defense forces protect the lives of our people. I have issued strong directives to our security forces to work closely with our international partners to prevent civilian casualties during military operations.

We call on the international forces that train our troops, to continuously monitor the situation and take precautionary measures for protecting civilians as a top priority.

The main focus of our four-year security strategy, drafted in close coordination with our international partners, is protection of Afghan civilians and ensuring of security.

The implementation of the four-year security plan which has been formulated by our Government is aimed at making our future and lives secure and safe. We are paying sacrifices in order to make a prosperous future for our children, women, sisters and brothers. I particularly thank national security advisor Hanif Atmar for his contribution to the strategy which has been endorsed by our international partners.

The strategy will help us create a strong, well-equipped and self-reliant security forces that are capable of protecting our national and religious values; and fully enabled to protect the territorial integrity and national sovereignty of Afghanistan.

The initial implementation of this plan proved its effectiveness this summer in weakening the enemy, defending the country and earning support of the people.

I thank the minister of defense, army chief of staff, minister of interior and their colleagues for their endeavors of protecting the people and their successful management showing our power to the enemy.

I hope that the upcoming elections will provide an opportunity for the people of Afghanistan and the country’s political elite to play a constructive role in the maturing of the legislative branch of the government.

Changes in the environment of Afghanistan particularly global perspective changes for the region, have provided us an opportunity to be free from the restrictions of the past and to utilize the new opportunities which have been provided for peace.

There is an opportunity for regional stability and our objective is pursuing everlasting stability. It gives us an opportunity to create peaceful atmospheres for dialogues.

We want to pursue peace on two fronts: first, peace with Pakistan, through state-to-state dialogue; especially with the view that stability in Afghanistan is not at the expense of any other country; rather, peace and stability in Afghanistan can provide the opportunity for economic development in the region.

Second, we seek intra-Afghan peace process. It is proven fact that no one can impose their will on the people of Afghanistan through war and violence. It is without a doubt that intra-Afghan negotiations are the best and the Afghan Government has always shown its readiness for this. I hope all parties will realize the new realities and effectively utilize this opportunity.

Our security forces are becoming stronger each day with increased capabilities to defend the Afghan people and land. History will judge those who do not want to join the peace.

Peace will also pave the way for strong defense against international terrorism, focus on development programs, elimination of poverty and establishing prosperity for our people.

I call on our neighbors, near and far, from India to Russia, to participate in forging regional consensus since the threat posed by terrorism has not been eliminated but growing day by day. Combatting terrorism effectively requires a regional and global consensus, and this risk must be taken seriously. If the peace process bears fruit, it will lead to a more effective combat against international terrorism.

The Taliban now have two options: one, to be a tool for someone else’s policy and remain allied with international terrorists, which result in their annihilation; or end the war and violence and participate in bringing peace and prosperity to the country.

We are at the front line of the fight against international terrorism and for the defense of the world from this menace. I thank Mr. Stoltenberg and Mr. Mattis who have contributed to our struggles of defense aimed at making Afghanistan a stable, happy and peaceful Afghanistan. Once again, I welcome you.