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USAID Road Recognition Ceremony
Ambassador Said T. Jawad


02/20/2004

Mr. Andrew Natsios,
The Honorable Steve Hadley,
Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen

In one of the trips of President Hamid Karzai to the North of Afghanistan, about two years ago, a young man managed to steal his attention by casting a bunch of flowers at his car. When the President glanced at him, he pointed to the depleted road and shouted “fix the road!”

This young man’s demand symbolized the collective wish of the Afghan nation. Afghans identify success in state building and war against terrorism with improvement of the infrastructure. A network of efficient and well-functioning infrastructure not only support the economy, but also contribute to security and national unity, and facilitate political and social integration at both national and international level.

President Karzai made the rehabilitation of roads a first priority with the subsequent plan to construct 1440 miles of a ring road connecting major cities with extension to links to the neighboring countries. Up to two thirds of the people of Afghanistan live within 50 kilometers of the entire ring road. The completion of the ring road changes the life of majority of Afghans. To date, some 533 miles of roads have been rebuilt.

President Bush personally committed himself to the success of this project. The US Agency for International Development, the State Department, NSC, the contractors and subcontractors worked very hard to make the vision of a Kabul-Kandahar highway a reality in record time.

Today, I am deeply honored to be here sharing with you this very happy occasion, and to convey the sincere gratitude of the President and the people of Afghanistan to every one of you. It is my pleasure to congratulate you for your outstanding achievement. With the completion of Phase I of the Kabul-Kandahar highway, the road to recovery in Afghanistan is paved. Rebuilding this historic landmark of US Afghan relations is a clear indication of the longstanding friendship and continuing commitment of the United States to the reconstruction of Afghanistan. We appreciate your friendship and commitment very much.

Thank you.