Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan Ambassador Marc Grossman departed on June 24 for Kabul, Afghanistan, for regional consultations to echo President Obama's June 22 speech on a troop drawdown and emphasize U.S. commitment to a long-term, enduring partnership with Afghanistan. As part of ongoing consultations with Afghanistan's neighbors and international partners, Ambassador Grossman attended a meeting of the International Contact Group. On June 27, 2011, Ambassador Grossman said:
"Let me first of all join Chairman Steiner in thanking the government of Afghanistan and particularly the Foreign Ministry for all the effort that went into creating this event and welcoming us. We very much appreciate that. I'd also like to thank Dr. Asher for hosting us at the Government Media Information Center.
"One point that the Chairman made that's extremely important is that this International Contact group which is now having it's 11th meeting, now includes over 50 countries. I think it's particularly important to remind ourselves that a third of those countries are from the Muslim world and indeed our last meeting, as you'll recall, was in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.
"I think the fact that we've chosen to meet here in Afghanistan is a clear demonstration of the depth of the international engagement with Afghanistan. It is absolutely right that we are here in Kabul.
"I had the opportunity with the larger group earlier to talk a little bit about the announcement that President Obama made last Wednesday to recover the 33,000 U.S. troops that were surged into Afghanistan: 10,000 by December 2011, and 23,000 before September 2012. We've been very grateful for the support, first of all that we've received from President Karzai and from other allies and partners. The President's speech followed the themes that the Foreign Minister and the Chairman have talked about, which is the transition to full Afghan responsibility for security in 2014.
"You'll recall that the President also said it wasn't just about the United States and its allies, but it's about the sacrifice of the Afghan people. The Afghans are fighting and dying for their country, establishing local police forces, opening markets and schools, creating the opportunities for women and girls, to try to turn the page on decades of war.
"As the Afghan government proves its ability to protect its people, the President said, we can move from an economy shaped by war to one that can sustain peace. What we can do, the United States, our partners and our allies, is build this partnership with the Afghan people that endures. One that ensures that we're able to continue targeting terrorists and supporting sovereign Afghan governance.
"I found this morning' session to be particularly substantive. The Minister and the Chair both talked about what was discussed this morning. I'd just like to highlight one thing. That is the important role that the International Contact Group will play in getting ready for the two extremely important meetings that both of my colleagues talked about this morning. The regional summit in Istanbul in November, and the Bonn conference on December 5th. If I might just join both of them in reminding you that at the Bonn conference will be hosted by the government of Germany but chaired by the government of Afghanistan. If we can use the calendar to our advantage and to the advantage of our Afghan partners, I hope that in Bonn we'll be able to mark progress in some very important areas -- building on Istanbul's support from Afghanistan's neighbors and near neighbors for peace and stability in Afghanistan, and a regional vision for economic growth, investment and job creation, and providing additional details about the international community's enduring commitment, I would say enduring investment, in Afghanistan through the end of the transition in 2014 and beyond.
"Let me just close by saying that Mr. Chairman, Mr. Minister, I look very much forward to this afternoon's session for two particular reasons. One is I look forward to our interaction with civil society here in Afghanistan; and secondly the conversation about reconciliation.
"Thank you for the opportunity to be here and share in this panel with you. Thank you very much."
During his travel, Ambassador Grossman also represented the United States at the third meeting of the U.S.-Afghanistan-Pakistan Core Group to support a process of Afghan-led reconciliation.