Afghan Ministers Come to Washington
While President Obama’s Afghanistan-Pakistan strategy review gets underway in earnest, several Afghan ministers are on their way to Washington for meetings with the Obama administration and Congress. Practically the entire Karzai government is headed in: Foreign Minister Rangin Dadfar Spanta and his top adviser Davood Moradian; Defense Minister Abdul Rahim Wardak; Interior Minister Mohammad Hanif Atmar; intelligence chief Amrullah Saleh; Minister of Rural Rehabilitation and Development Mohammed Ehsan Zia; National Security Advisor Zalmay Rassoul; local-governance chief Jelani Popal; U.N. ambassador Zahir Tanin; and our old friend Said Jawad, Kabul’s man in Washington.
They’ll have a full itinerary. Tomorrow, they’ll meet with the visiting Pakistani minister for foreign affairs, Shah Mahmoud Qureshi, as well as select members of congress. Wednesday they have a lunch briefing with the White House Af-Pak strategy review session and dinner alongside a visiting Pakistani delegation at the State Department. Thursday it’s back to State for a bilateral meeting with Secretary Hillary Rodham Clinton and a joint State Department meeting with the Pakistani delegation, as well as a parley with the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Friday it’s breakfast fun with the press. There will also be media appearances throughout, like a Thursday morning press conference with Wardak hosted by the Center for a New American Security.
My understanding is that in addition to the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee, the ministers will meet with Reps. Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.), Kay Granger (R-Texas), Silvestre Reyes (D-Tex.), Ike Skelton (D-Mo.), Pete Hoekstra (R-Mich.) and John McHugh (D-N.Y.).
An official at the Afghanistan embassy is happy that the Afghan officials are informing the strategy review, and comments that the Karzai government looks “forward to forging ahead with a new coordinated and comprehensive regional strategy to overcome the joint challenges that Afghanistan and Pakistan face.”
I’ll have more on this later, but in the meantime, check out Laura Rozen’s analysis of the trip.