On July 13, Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan Richard Holbrooke spoke to the press about the upcoming Kabul Conference. Ambassador Holbrooke said:
"I leave again tomorrow for Germany, Pakistan, Afghanistan, India, and London on the way back.... In Germany, I'm going to meet with the coordinator for the international special representatives for Afghanistan and Pakistan group, Michael Steiner, who coordinates internationally and does a wonderful job. This is a very important organization which has grown from zero 15 months ago to somewhere around 35 counterparts now. It's an extraordinary organization because it has no formal mandate, and yet it is functioning, meeting regularly. We met in Madrid in May and we will meet again in Italy in the fall. And we have moved around the world. We met in Abu Dhabi in January. And this group has proved to be an indispensible vehicle for coordinating civilian programs.
"Now, it doesn't have the formality of NATO, which is a legal treaty organization with a military command structure. But it proved to fill an essential gap in our policy structure. And we're very grateful to Michael Steiner and the Germans for coordinating it. And many of you in this room know many details about it. There are seven OIC countries that are members, and we hope that number will increase dramatically. The seven OIC countries are Egypt, Turkey, Jordan, UAE, Saudi Arabia, Kazakhstan, and Malaysia. And I draw your attention to the importance of the fact that so many Muslim countries are participating in this effort, which gives the direct lie to the clash of civilizations theory, which the Taliban and al-Qaida put out so continually... We expect more OIC countries to come."
Ambassador Holbrooke described the upcoming Kabul Conference. He said, "It is a follow-on to the January 28th Conference held in London and it was called at the invitation of President Karzai. I am told it's the largest gathering of foreign leaders in Afghanistan since the 1970s. It will be an Afghan-led conference, and in it, the Afghan Government has told us that they will present their renewed commitments on security, governance, development, and they will put heavy emphasis on their programs on reintegration. This is a -- I can't give you the exact number of foreign ministers who are coming because I really don't know it, but we know that the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon will be there, the NATO Secretary General Rasmussen will be there, and many other foreign ministers."
Read the full transcript of Ambassador Holbrooke's briefing here.