Good morning. It is a pleasure to be with you today and it was a pleasure to hear His Excellency President Ghani describe the progress that the Afghan government has made since the United States, and representatives from 100 other countries and international organizations met last year in Brussels. I am returning to Afghanistan after having worked here several years ago in partnership with the Government of Afghanistan, and in particular having worked with His Excellency President Ghani when he was responsible for the transition of security from the Coalition to the Government of Afghanistan. It is inspiring to witness the progress that has been made in the short time I have been away.
As our new strategy for South Asia makes clear, the United States remains committed to supporting the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan as it works to counter terrorism, achieve a lasting political settlement, and expand the delivery of essential government services. We are resolved to walk this path with Afghanistan as it continues to make measurable progress in the areas we are discussing today: governance, economic growth, and social inclusion.
We are pleased to have established the U.S.-Afghan Compact, a bilateral understanding that builds upon our multi-lateral agreements. The Compact, which is already showing early signs of success, emphasizes our joint commitment to reform in the areas of security, peace and reconciliation, governance and economic growth. Our New Development Partnership (NDP) also highlights the reforms we believe are essential to achieving our shared goals. We are confident that more progress can be made, and we look forward to supporting the government as it works to achieve the remaining benchmarks.
The United States welcomes the announcement of the National Strategy for Combatting Corruption, and urges its robust implementation of this new strategy. We remain committed to helping Afghanistan expand the delivery of essential government services and reclaim its place in the regional and international economy. The United States is encouraged by the Government of Afghanistan’s implementation of the Citizens’ Charter. We cannot underestimate the role of Afghan communities, including vulnerable groups such as women, returnees, and the poor. The Charter serves as a mechanism to have their voices heard and to ensure that the government is held accountable for the promises it makes.
Over the coming year, the U.S. Government will intensify its focus on private sector-led economic growth and will underscore the importance of key market centers for job creation and export development. To empower the private sector, the U.S. Government urges the Government of Afghanistan to implement market-based policies that enable investment in Afghanistan’s many growing industries, including the responsible development of the extractives sector. Last week’s trade event in New Delhi, sponsored by USAID, shows us that many investors are interested in doing business in Afghanistan. We need to continue to create an environment that this more conducive to these investors.
The U.S. Government will continue to support Afghan efforts to promote peace and forge stronger connections with its neighbors. We look forward to joining you all at the Seventh Regional Economic Cooperation Conference on Afghanistan (RECCA VII), the Heart of Asia Ministerial, and the next Kabul Process Conference. The Government of Afghanistan is making visible progress everyday. The U.S. Government will continue to stand by our Afghan partners as they strive to enact meaningful reforms which will combat corruption and promote stability in Afghanistan and the region.