Photo: Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice speaks with a U.S. Army soldier at Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan, Feb. 7, 2008. Photo by Lt. Cmdr. Steven Parks, USN
The fight in Afghanistan is important for the future of the Afghan people, the NATO countries involved in the fight, the United States, and the rest of the world, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said today during a visit to Afghanistan.
Rice spoke to NATO troops at Kandahar Airfield with British Foreign Secretary David Miliband. She thanked the troops for helping turn Afghanistan from a failed state that was a safe haven for terrorists into a functioning, modern state.
"You have done it with skill and bravery, I know with sacrifice. You've lost comrades along the way who gave the ultimate sacrifice," Rice told the troops. "But I hope you know how much the sacrifice and the work is appreciated. I hope you know what a great source of pride your honor is to all of us. And I hope you know as you go out every day and work to help the Afghan people build a decent and functioning and modern society, that you're contributing not only to the security and the future of the Afghan people, but to the security and the future of your own countries, your own people, and indeed the security and future of the world."
Winning in Afghanistan and making sure it never again becomes a haven for terrorists is the core of the modern fight against terrorism, Rice said. She acknowledged that it will be a long, tough fight, but praised the Afghan people for their resilience and dedication to improving their country.
"I think you are also learning that working with the Afghans, who are a decent people, a people who are tough and who want a better future, is really heartening," Rice said to the troops. "I know that when they come to Washington or when I come here, I'm just really impressed with their skill and with their extraordinary desire to live a better life."
Rice made her previously unannounced visit to Afghanistan as the United States is working to boost the number of NATO forces in the country.
She noted that the NATO alliance wasn't formed to fight terrorism, but she praised the alliance's efforts in working together in this fight, which she said will transform history.
"Each and every day I hope you have just one moment to step back and think what an extraordinary, extraordinary experience you're involved in and what an extraordinary legacy of peace and democracy and prosperity you'll leave to the Afghan people, and in doing so a legacy of peace for the world," Rice told the troops.