(Prague, Czech Republic)
A bipartisan U.S. congressional delegation en route to Afghanistan visited RFE's Prague headquarters today to meet with the journalists of Radio Azadi -- the most popular radio station in Afghanistan. Led by Rep. Bill Shuster (R-Pa.), Reps. Christopher Murphy (D-Conn.), Sean Duffy (R-Wis.), Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.), Cedric Richmond (D-La.), and Jon Runyan (R-N.J.) also toured RFE's broadcast facilities and discussed RFE's mission and goals with RFE leadership.
In an exclusive interview with RFE, Shuster and Murphy discussed U.S. goals and strategy in Afghanistan, as well as a broad range of foreign policy issues to include Pakistan and Azerbaijan. Excerpts below with a full transcript available online
I hope that we allow the president to move ahead with his plan for transition, but I do think that should the president come back to Congress and ask for more time, he is going to find some reluctance given the amount of money we have spent and the number of lives we have lost... We are going to need a long-standing presence in that country, whether it be to help the Afghans with security for their civil service, whether it is to continue training missions, or whether it is for selected counterinsurgency efforts.
This is the spring, when the fighting is most intense, and the American people are going to go up and down, but I think if the president comes to Congress and looks for support I think he will have bipartisan support... I believe that we should never have a date certain to give to our enemies, I think it does give our enemies, it increases their morale to know at some point we are going to be gone.Shuster:
As far as President Karzai is putting the blame on the United States, he needs to really focus on making sure that he has good governance, on rooting out the corruption that is rampant in Afghanistan. I think that is as big as a problem as insurgents across the border. The people of Afghanistan want to have a government that they can trust, that is not going to come to the table of the highest bidder. On Pakistan:Murphy:
There is no doubt that Pakistan has and is playing a role in the insurgency, whether it is through some of their security services or simply by allowing a safe harbor for the transit across the border. We need to be approaching our strategy in Afghanistan on a regional basis. Representative Shuster mentioned this, I think one of the failures of American policy has been to view success or failure in Afghanistan simply through the implementation of strategy within its borders and, frankly, the conversation needs to be even broader than Pakistan. On Azerbaijan:
We see what is happening in the Middle East now and the American people want to have friends and allies that have democratic institutions, whose government is transparent. They believe in humanitarian rights. So those are issues that we will bring up with the president but also just to let him know that America appreciates staunch allies like the Azeris.About RFE's Radio Azadi
RFE's Radio Azadi (www.azadiradio.org
) is the leading media outlet in Afghanistan today, reaching 50 percent of the Afghan population across the country with its radio and internet programs, broadcasting 12 hours daily in both Pashto and Dari languages. The Kabul bureau recently moved to a newly expanded location to accommodate a growing staff and expansion of its mobile news applications, including SMS and IVR (Intelligent Voice Recognition) services.About RFE
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).