Obama, Karzai Vow Undeterred Effort in Afghanistan

WASHINGTON, Sept. 20, 2011 — Pres­i­dent Barack Oba­ma and Afghan Pres­i­dent Hamid Karzai today vowed that despite the assas­si­na­tion of the chair­man of the Afghan High Peace Coun­cil, progress toward a peace­ful and pros­per­ous Afghanistan will con­tin­ue unde­terred.

The two pres­i­dents spoke briefly with reporters before a meet­ing in New York.

Two sui­cide bombers det­o­nat­ed them­selves at the home of for­mer Afghan Pres­i­dent Burhanud­din Rab­bani, who head­ed the coun­cil respon­si­ble for the Afghan government’s efforts to bring for­mer insur­gents back into Afghan soci­ety. Rab­bani was killed, and the council’s sec­re­tary, Moham­mad Mas­soom Stanekzai, was wound­ed. The bombers had feigned inter­est in con­duct­ing rec­on­cil­i­a­tion talks, offi­cials said.

“He was a man who cared deeply about Afghanistan and had been a val­ued advi­sor to Pres­i­dent Karzai, and was an enor­mous con­trib­u­tor to rebuild­ing the coun­try, so it is a trag­ic loss,” Oba­ma said to Karzai. “We want to extend our heart­felt con­do­lences to you and to his fam­i­ly, and the peo­ple of Afghanistan.

“But, Mr. Pres­i­dent, I think we both believe that despite this inci­dent, we will not be deterred from cre­at­ing a path where­by Afghans can live in free­dom and safe­ty and secu­ri­ty and pros­per­i­ty,” he added,“and that it is going to be impor­tant to con­tin­ue the efforts to bring all ele­ments of Afghan soci­ety togeth­er to end what has been a sense­less cycle of vio­lence.”

Call­ing Rabbani’s death “a ter­ri­ble loss,” Karzai hailed the slain leader as a patri­ot.

“The mis­sion that he had under­tak­en was vital … for the Afghan peo­ple and for the secu­ri­ty of our coun­try and for peace in our coun­try,” he said. “We will miss him very, very much. … But as you right­ly say, this will not deter us from con­tin­u­ing on the path that we have, and we’ll def­i­nite­ly suc­ceed.”

NATO mil­i­tary lead­ers con­demned the assas­si­na­tion.

Navy Adm. James G. Stavridis, the alliance’s supreme allied com­man­der for Europe, called the attack “an attempt to silence all those work­ing on the peace ini­tia­tive for Afghanistan.”

“This assas­si­na­tion is only anoth­er cow­ard­ly act of vio­lence,” he added,“but it will not deter the impor­tant work of rec­on­cil­i­a­tion.”

Marine Corps Gen. John R. Allen, com­man­der of the NATO-led Inter­na­tion­al Secu­ri­ty Assis­tance Force in Afghanistan, said the attack proves the Taliban’s inten­tions.

“This is anoth­er out­ra­geous indi­ca­tor that, regard­less of what Tal­iban lead­er­ship out­side the coun­try say, they do not want peace, but rather war,” he said. “Their only goal with this com­plete­ly immoral act is to turn the clock back to the dark­ness syn­ony­mous with the Tal­iban move­ment.

“Our con­do­lences go out to the fam­i­lies of Pro­fes­sor Rab­bani and Min­is­ter Stanekzai,” he con­tin­ued. “We will con­tin­ue to work close­ly with our Afghan part­ners in our march toward peace, and to hold those respon­si­ble for this heinous act account­able for their crimes against the peo­ple of Afghanistan.”

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs)