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For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
September 12, 2002

Joint Statement on Road Construction in Afghanistan by the President of the United States, the Prime Minister of Japan, and the Foreign Minister of Saudi Arabia

Since the horrific events of September 11, 2001, the Governments of the United States, Japan, and Saudi Arabia have worked together both on ridding the world of the scourge of terrorism and, following the success of Operation Enduring Freedom, supporting Afghanistan's Transitional Administration, led by President Hamid Karzai. With Japan, our joint work on this endeavor grows from the close bilateral relationship that has long existed between our peoples and our governments as reflected in the U.S.-Japan Partnership for Security and Prosperity, based on our shared values, mutual trust and friendship, reaffirmed at Camp David in June 2001. Similarly, the United States and Saudi Arabia have built a strong bilateral relationship over the past 60 years based on mutual trust and respect and a common vision of a just, peaceful, and prosperous world.

In November 2001, the United States, Saudi Arabia, and Japan foresaw the need for the community of nations effectively to plan how to provide humanitarian relief and reconstruction for Afghanistan as the Taliban fell from power. This culminated in the Tokyo Pledging Conference in January 2002, which yielded 4.5 billion dollars in pledges to finance Afghanistan's humanitarian and reconstruction needs over the next five years.

Our governments have acted as leaders in the international community to address the humanitarian needs of Afghanistan, including repatriation and resettlement of refugees and the internally displaced.

While these challenges continue, it is now time for the international community to take strong, visible steps to begin Afghanistan's physical reconstruction. Traditionally, Afghanistan's key unifying transportation artery has been the road connecting Kabul in the east to Herat in the west. This is the key link in Afghanistan's "ring road" which also connects its northern provinces with the capital.

To launch the reconstruction of this key transportation network, which now lies in ruins, the United States, Japan, and Saudi Arabia are committing today to reconstruct the road from Kabul, through Kandahar, to Herat to international standards. We invite others to join us in this project. But to make clear our determination, the United States is today committing eighty million dollars toward this project, Japan is committing fifty million dollars focusing its effort on the road from Kabul to Kandahar, and Saudi Arabia is also committing fifty million dollars. Taken together, this initial funding alone should complete the bulk of this roadway.

Because it is essential for Afghanistan's people to see the fruits of their government's work and the commitment of Saudi Arabia, Japan and the United States made real, we intend to begin initial construction before winter sets in and will make every effort to complete the entire highway--from Kabul to Kandahar to Herat--within thirty-six months.

We intend to use this project to foster opportunity for economic growth and prosperity in Afghanistan. It is our belief that this road, along with others that will connect Afghanistan to its neighbors north and south, can set the stage for a complete transportation system, the lowering of tariff and other barriers to trade, and the establishment of links through Afghanistan from the Indian Ocean to Central Asia and from the Caspian Basin to the Far East. With this vision in mind, we look forward to the day that Afghanistan regains its place along the "Silk Road" connecting East and West in a highway of mutual understanding, commerce, and peace.

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