Transcript: Remarks by President Bush and President Karzai of Afghanistan in a Press Availability
Presidential Palace, Kabul, Afghanistan
2:52 P.M. (Local)
PRESIDENT KARZAI: Well, such a wonderful moment for us in Afghanistan today to have our great friend, our great supporter, a man that helped us liberate, a man that helped us rebuild, a man that helped us move toward the future, President Bush, today with us in Afghanistan.
I conveyed upon President Bush's arrival to him that when the Afghan people come to know that you are here today, but when they see on the television that we did not provide you the kind of hospitality perhaps we want to provide you, I'll be in serious trouble. (Laughter.) But I'll have a lot of explaining to do to the Afghan people.
Mr. President, welcome to Afghanistan. We owe a great, great deal in this country's rebuilding -- peace, democracy, the strong steps toward the future -- to your support, to your leadership, to the American people, and to the way you have given your hand to the Afghan people.
I'm not going to go into the details of all that you've done for us -- it's from the defeat of terrorism to peace in Afghanistan, to democracy, to reconstruction, to the success of the whole process. Thank you very much, Mr. President, and welcome to Afghanistan.
PRESIDENT BUSH: Thank you, Mr. President. Thank you for having me. Laura and I are honored to be here. It's such a thrill to come to a country which is dedicating itself to the dignity of every person that lives here.
First of all, I want to thank you for the fantastic lunch we just had. I did get a taste of Afghanistan hospitality, and it's good. I appreciate you introducing me to many of the leaders of your government. I'm impressed by their dedication to making sure the experience that you're going through, experience of growing a democracy that honors and respects all, is successful.
One of the messages I want to say to the people of Afghanistan is it's our country's pleasure and honor to be involved with the future of this country. We like stories of young girls going to school for the first time so they can realize their potential. We appreciate a free press. We are enthralled when we see an entrepreneurial class grow up where people are able to work and realize their dreams. We understand the importance of having a well-trained military dedicated to the sovereignty of the country and to the peace of the people. We're impressed by the progress that your country is making, Mr. President. A lot of it has to do with your leadership.
Today, I not only had a good long visit with my friend, the President, but we had a good visit with a lot of the folks who make this government work. From here, I'll go to cut a ribbon at our new embassy. The embassy should be a clear statement to the people in Afghanistan that we're dedicated to helping. And then I'm going to go out to the base and thank some of our troops who are here to protect our country, and, at the same time, help the people of Afghanistan protect themselves.
One of the things I told the President, and told the members of your team and your cabinet and the government, is that people all over the world are watching the experience here in Afghanistan. I hope the people of Afghanistan understand that as democracy takes hold, you're inspiring others. And that inspiration will cause others to demand their freedom. And as the world becomes more free, the world will become more peaceful.
And so I come as a friend, an ally, and a person like you, dedicated to peace. Thank you for having me.