Under Secretary for Political Affairs David Hale: Let me begin by thanking the Government of Finland and Special Envoy Taalas; the government of Afghanistan and President Ghani; and the UN, including Special Representative Lyons, for organizing this conference, especially with the constraints posed by COVID-19.
We continue to support a negotiated settlement in Doha that offers our best chance for the vision of a sovereign, unified, and democratic Afghanistan.
Our common goal is an Afghanistan at peace with itself and its neighbors, respectful of the human rights of all its citizens, and capable of ensuring terrorists can never again use Afghan soil to threaten the security of America and our allies. This outcome will reduce the burden on the U.S. military and taxpayers, promote regional integration and prosperity, and contribute to a more stable and peaceful world.
President Trump’s November 17 decision to draw down the number of troops does not signal a change in policy. America remains committed to its enduring partnership with a sovereign, unified, stable, and representative Afghanistan. We seek to preserve and build upon the considerable gains made over the past 19 years. We also want to build on the historic opportunities for Afghanistan as progress towards peace continues.
This conference is an opportunity to signal to the Afghan people and to the negotiating parties that we support peace. We also expect to see an immediate reduction in violence.
With that, I would like to turn your attention to a video message from our Secretary of State.
Secretary of State Pompeo: Hello everyone, Secretary Pompeo with you.
I first want to thank everyone participating in this conference for your support of the Afghan people.
Our meeting comes at a very timely moment. The start of the Afghan Peace Negotiations in Doha has opened a new and unprecedented opportunity set for peace and prosperity.
At the same time, Afghanistan faces difficult challenges, such as the pandemic from Wuhan, and unacceptably high levels of violence.
The United States remains committed to our own enduring partnership with Afghanistan, and to helping these negotiations be successful.
So too must all our all countries and organizations help to maintain and advance gains achieved since 2001.
Those gains include Afghanistan’s adherence to the rule of law; respect for its international obligations; and inclusive, transparent, and accountable governance. We must also emphasize the importance of respect for the rights of all Afghans, including women, youth, and minority groups.
The government of Afghanistan must also do its part to implement essential elements of stability and security, just as the Afghan people expect. I’m talking about things like economic reforms; real anti-corruption efforts, including our drug interdiction; respect for human rights, including religious freedom; a welcome environment for the private sector; and steps toward self-reliance.
I want to be clear that the choices made in peace negotiations will affect the size and scope of future international support and assistance.
The United States looks forward to reviewing progress in the areas I mentioned in one year’s time.
Finally, the United States is looking to our international partners – especially Afghanistan’s neighbors and others in the region – to help that country toward a more peaceful, secure, and sustainable future.
The contributions made here will be a strong signal of our support for the Afghan people. I know we can help them achieve the good outcomes they so desperately seek.
Let’s just keep up our good work.
Under Secretary for Political Affairs David Hale: I am pleased to report today, in addition to what Secretary Pompeo just said, that the two sides in Doha have made significant progress in negotiations: a tentative agreement on rules and procedures that should allow the negotiators to move ahead to start setting an agenda. If leaders on all sides are ready to move ahead, this will put them one step closer to realizing the vision of a sovereign, unified, and representative Afghanistan at peace with itself and its neighbors, and respectful of the human rights of all its citizens. I urge Afghan leaders to seize this opportunity.
We stand ready to support Afghanistan, and to that end we have made available $600 million for civilian assistance needs in 2021. We are pleased to pledge today $300 million of that money, with the remaining $300 million available as we review progress in the peace process. We will work with Congress to consider sustainable levels for future civilian assistance, as political conditions in Afghanistan allow and as a means to incentivize meaningful reform and positive momentum in the peace process.
We have taken careful account of reports of efforts to delay, disrupt, and thwart the progress for which the negotiating teams have worked so hard. Our assistance has long been conditions-based: based on core principles of transparency, accountability, and good governance. These disturbing reports make clear that support to the peace process must also be one of our conditions. We expect the negotiating teams will receive direction to move ahead, but we will closely examine this assumption in the coming days and weeks.
To underscore the Secretary’s comments, while the nature of a future political settlement is for the Afghan people to decide, the choices made in peace negotiations will affect the size and scope of future international support and assistance.
We all have a stake in the future of Afghanistan and in ensuring a more peaceful, secure, and sustainable future for its people. The Government of Afghanistan must do its part. And the Afghan people and the world expect no less.
Thank you very much.