(Prague, Czech Republic
) In an interview with RFE, Congressman Dan Burton (R-Ind.) restated his support for continued engagement with Pakistan following the death of Osama bin Laden. "For us to abandon the issue of Pakistan right now would be tragic," Burton told RFE. He also discussed long-term military commitments in Afghanistan and President Obama's policy on economic reforms in the Middle East. Excerpts below, with a full transcript available here
Burton was part of a bipartisan U.S. congressional delegation that included Reps. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-Texas), Candice Miller (R-Mich.), Frederica Wilson (D-Fla.) and Lynn Woolsey (D-Calif.). The group's visit to RFE's Prague headquarters came at the end of a weeklong European tour that included stops in Dublin, Ireland and Vienna, Austria.
"I think that we absolutely have to keep an engagement process going. How much foreign aid is going to be necessary, how much foreign aid we will have to give, is something that we will have to decide. But for us to abandon the issue of Pakistan right now I think would be tragic."
"I think we're making progress there. When the president starts talking about removing troops and setting a timetable, I think that's probably not the best thing because you give the Taliban and others a period of time within which to wait us out. But assuming that we follow the timeline that the president has set forth, I think it is important that we have a residual force there in that region working with the Afghan military and the Afghan police forces to make sure that stability reigns. In my opinion, we can't let the radical elements once again take over and start exporting terrorism."
On free market reform in the Middle East:
"Before we start putting money into a country to help build up the free-enterprise system, we need to make sure we know where the money is going -- first of all. Second, we need to know who is going to be in charge. I don't want any American taxpayers' dollars going to people who are going to be enemies of the United States and trying to undermine the security of the free world."
RFE is an independent, international news and broadcast organization whose programs -- radio, Internet, and television -- reach influential audiences in 21 countries such as Russia, Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and the republics of Central Asia. It is funded by the U.S. Congress through the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG).