WASHINGTON, DC – Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, issued the following statement prior to Wednesday’s Joint Meeting of Congress by President of Afghanistan Ashraf Ghani.
“The first democratic transition in Afghanistan’s history, inaugurating President Ghani and Dr. Abdullah, marked the start of a new day for the Afghan people. I welcome them both to the United States and look forward to President Ghani’s remarks to the Joint Meeting of Congress.
“The National Unity Government creates many opportunities to re-energize the U.S. – Afghan relationship. The international community has a new partner in the Afghan government which has displayed a revitalized commitment to increasing accountability, strengthening governance, bolstering the private sector, and ensuring citizen’s rights, especially those of women and girls. With this renewed political will, the U.S. should act now and use our assistance to incentivize concrete reforms, something that I recommended in a report released last year.
“Our goals should be to provide assistance that results in genuine development outcomes and enhances the capacity of democratic Afghan governing institutions, while ensuring that U.S. taxpayer dollars are spent most effectively. While I am encouraged by the renewed political will to reform in Kabul, actions will speak louder than words and we must use all the tools at our disposal to ensure enhanced accountability for our investments.
“I support the president’s decision to maintain our current level of U.S. troops in Afghanistan through the end of this year in order to continue to develop the capacity of the Afghan National Security Forces. This delay in the drawdown of our forces will contribute to stability in Afghanistan through this precarious transition period.
“Our service members, diplomats, and development professionals have sacrificed greatly alongside the Afghan people to achieve hard-fought, but fragile, gains. We should maintain this commitment, while demanding an increasingly higher standard of accountability.”