Press Conference at the Foreign Correspondents' Club of Japan

Press Conference
Dan Feldman
Deputy Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan 
Tokyo, Japan
April 23, 2010

DEPUTY SPECIAL REPRESENTATIVE FELDMAN: Thank you very much and thanks for your hospitality in having me here and giving me the opportunity to speak about U.S. efforts in Afghanistan and Pakistan as well as Japanese efforts and our very close cooperation on these issues. I've just completed two days of very constructive meetings with colleagues in the government here, particularly the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and at JICA. My discussions are further proof that the U.S. and Japan share both a fundamental strategic understanding of Afghanistan and Pakistan and a common view of how to approach this very challenging region. Afghanistan and Pakistan are at the top of each of our shared agendas and a key and very successful cornerstone of our bilateral relationship.

The Government of Japan and the leadership of Special Representative Ambassador Yoshikawa, who is the Japanese counterpart to Ambassador Holbrooke, have shown a very deep understanding of the needs of the region. We're at a vital moment for Afghanistan and Pakistan. The U.S. recognized this last year and undertook an extensive strategic review of our policies in the region as announced by President Obama last December when we redoubled our efforts in Afghanistan and Pakistan. We applaud and appreciate that the Government of Japan has done similarly and placed the important work of Afghanistan and Pakistan so high on its own diplomatic agenda. The Government of Japan announced last November, as you are well aware, its extremely generous new assistance package to Afghanistan and Pakistan. Our conclusions, and the U.S. conclusions in particular, are outlined in this regional stabilization strategy, which Secretary Clinton submitted to Congress a month or two ago and which provides a lot more details on many of the programs that I'll discuss today.

But our common conclusions describe a common approach to the region – support for Afghan leadership and transition to Afghan security responsibility, a strategic relationship with Pakistan's democratic government. The U.S. and Japan are doing more and doing more together. There are a few key components of our civilian assistance program in Afghanistan and Pakistan, which I'll outline for you starting with Afghanistan.

In Afghanistan, our focus is building the capacity of Afghan institutions to withstand and diminish the threat posed by extremism and to deliver high impact economic assistance especially in the agricultural sector to create jobs, reduce the funding that the Taliban receives from poppy cultivation, and draw insurgents off the battlefield. We are targeting our support at the national level on Afghan ministries that can have the most direct impact on service delivery, particularly in the geographic heart of the insurgency in the south and east.

The military and civilian efforts in Marjah over the past few months are a demonstration of our commitment to getting government services to the people who need them most. President Karzai's inaugural address last year set forth an ambitious agenda focusing on reintegration, economic development, improving relations with Afghanistan's regional partners, and steadily increasing the security responsibilities of Afghan security forces. Rapid progress on this agenda is important and will require international support.

Toward this end, we are encouraging the Afghan Government to take strong actions to improve governance and to provide better services for the people of Afghanistan, while maintaining and expanding on the important democratic reforms and advances in women's rights that have been made since 2001. Meeting the commitments made by the international community and by the Government of Afghanistan at the London Conference in January, including anticorruption and electoral reform, is a critical first step toward achieving the government's agenda. When the Government of Afghanistan's policies do not match its commitments or do not go far enough toward reform, the U.S., Japan, and other partners must work together for stronger action. We will see the second half of this international component, which was first announced in London at the Kabul Conference, which as you noted in the introduction will be held on or around July 20 at this point – July 19 or 20 in that time frame – but the agenda and the format for that meeting are still being worked out by the Afghan Government. The London Conference was supposed to articulate the international community's expectations of Afghanistan and the Kabul Conference with the Afghan Government's demonstration of its implementation and operationalization of many of those commitments.

The U.S. itself is in the midst of a significant increase not only in troops, as you're well aware, but in civilian experts. Over the past year we have increased from the time President Obama took office. There were just 320 civilians on the ground in Afghanistan to now almost a 1,000, and we are continuing to expand the civilian mission. These experts come from a wide range of U.S. government agencies including not only the Department of State, where we are, but USAID, the Department of Agriculture, the Drug Enforcement Agency, the Department of Justice, the FBI, and the Department of Homeland Security. International assistance is also most effective when well-coordinated and linked to common policy objectives. We are strongly supporting the strength in civilian coordination mechanisms under the new UN SRSG Staffan de Mistura, the new NATO senior civilian rep Mark Sedwill, and of course, the new EU Special Envoy Usackas.

Lastly, building the Afghan national security forces is another shared objective. To meet it we must meet the training requirements identified by NATO. Our strategy depends upon an expanded effective Afghan army and police, which in turn depends on the deploying the right trainers and the right sources immediately. This is a key subject that is being discussed today at the NATO ministerial in Tallinn. Improvements in governance, development and the Afghan national security forces will set the required conditions for a careful province-by-province transition to Afghan security leadership. This transition strategy however is not an exit strategy. ISAF missions will change, but not end with transition, and we must sustain a long-term political diplomatic and economic commitment to Afghanistan in line with our joint and enduring interests.

From the Japanese side, Japan's extraordinary assistance package to Afghanistan of approximately $5 billion over five years in addition to earlier pledges makes Japan the second largest bilateral donor and represents a fourfold increase over previous assistance since the Tokyo Conference in 2002. Japan's attention to enhancing Afghanistan's capability to maintain security, reintegrating former insurgents into society, and advancing sustainable and self-reliant development are vital to the success of the international effort in Afghanistan.

On the first of those three areas in security, Japan's support of the Afghan national police is critical in developing an Afghan security force that can lead to counterinsurgency and counterterrorism fights. It is truly remarkable that its commitment has resulted in paying the full salaries of all police in Afghanistan for the past year. It's something that's critically needed if we are going to be able to start transitioning security back to Afghanistan and it is an amount of money that is just impossible for the Afghan Government itself to afford. The second priority area on reintegration plays into natural Japanese strengths and expertise. They have helped to lead the DIAG and DDR efforts over the last few years and are similarly taking a leadership role on the new reintegration efforts. Together with the U.K., they have helped to launch the reintegration trust fund, which they announced in London in January and gave its anchor contribution of $50 million. These reintegration efforts are at the heart of what will be discussed in the upcoming peace jirga, consultative jirga, next month and again at the Kabul Conference in July, and which we are very, very supportive of. We have always said that the most important factor in reintegration efforts is that they be Afghan-led and so this effort is being led by Mr. Stanekzai in Afghanistan, but with close consultation with the international community, with NATO- ISAF and with us, Japan, and other key donors.

Lastly, obviously, we can't start to have a stable, prosperous, and independent Afghanistan if we don't contribute to the development needs and to promoting economic opportunity in Afghanistan, and so redeveloping the agricultural sector is our main non-security priority. It is again an area that Japan has great expertise in and so their assistance in agriculture expertise and their health and education efforts in building the critical infrastructure that's needed for a sustainable Afghanistan including their Kandahar City plans and their roadway infrastructure work are all critical priorities.

Let me just turn briefly to Pakistan because it's also essential for success in Afghanistan. Our strategy in Afghanistan requires helping Pakistan build upon its own success recently in eliminating extremist sanctuaries that threaten not just the Afghanistan and Pakistani people but people around the world. Pakistan plays a pivotal role in supporting stability in part of the world that's important to all of us. We say frequently that we cannot succeed in Afghanistan if we don't also succeed in Pakistan; and if we fail in Pakistan, we will also fail in Afghanistan. So the two are inextricably tied together. The U.S. appreciates our continued cooperation with Japan and helping prepare Pakistan play this key stabilizing role, including by assisting the internally-displaced, helping to alleviate Pakistan's energy crisis and supporting civilian institutions as they strive to provide good governance and crucial services to the Pakistani people

For the U.S., our long-term partnership with Pakistan revolves around five policies, each of which I'll just mention briefly but if you'd like me to elaborate in the Q & A, I'd be happy to. First of all, our new assistance program, which is tied to the Kerry-Lugar-Berman legislation passed last year in our Congress, authorizing $7.5 billion in assistance over five years, $1.5 billion a year. It's tripling our civilian assistance. We are targeting that new assistance money in helping Pakistan address immediate energy, water-related economic crises to support broader economic and democratic reforms in helping Pakistan build on its successes in eliminating extremist sanctuaries. Second is our security assistance. The U.S. is sustaining its counterinsurgency support for Pakistan. Third , communications. The expanded U.S. commitment helps innovative programs empowering Pakistanis to discredit extremist propaganda. Fourth, strengthening people-to-people ties so that our bilateral ties are not just military-to-military and government-to-government, but people-to-people. And fifth, enhancing bilateral engagement, including most recently the strategic dialogue that Secretary Clinton hosted in Washington just a few weeks ago with Foreign Minister Qureshi, the first time that that strategic dialogue has ever been held on a minister-to minister-level and where we reiterated the core foundations of our partnership, our shared democratic values, mutual trust, and mutual respect. The most important aspect of that strategic dialogue is that we showcased the breadth of our programs and mutual interests with Pakistan. We have had 13 substantive working groups on everything from energy and trade to security issues, communications, women empowerment. Those are all launched at the strategic dialogue. We are having ongoing dialogues in each of those areas chaired by a minister in Pakistan and a cabinet secretary-level in the U.S. Those dialogues are being held in Islamabad over the course of the next month or two and it will be followed up again by a visit by Secretary Clinton to Pakistan later this year.

Japan has obviously been a leader as well in working with Pakistan to address security challenges, strengthen democratic institutions, improve governance, and stabilize Pakistan's economy. Just over a year ago, Japan played host, as you all know, to an important donors conference here in Tokyo where donors contributed over $5 billion to support Pakistan's economic stabilization, and each Japan and the U.S. pledged to provide $1 billion. We are, in fact, just next week the U.S. and Japanese ambassadors in capitals around the world will be following up on the pledges made at the donors conference.

In conclusion, to achieve our objectives, we are working to build the broadest possible global coalition to help Afghanistan and Pakistan become more stable and prosperous so they can withstand the extremist threat and meet the most important needs of their people. The tasks in Afghanistan and Pakistan are hard and complex. The many nations who are supporting the efforts it both countries are united by a goal to improve international security and improve livelihoods for the people in those countries. As we move forward, we could have no better friend and stalwart partner than Japan. Japanese diplomatic and assistance contributions are deeply valued by us and the international community and we look forward to many more consultations in Tokyo, in Washington, in Kabul, and Islamabad, and elsewhere in pursuit of our shared and mutual goals. Thank you.

QUESTION: I am Takashi Hanza from Kyodo news wire service. I have a question regarding the Afghanistan national police. Can you give me a little bit more assessment of the efficiency and ability of the national police of Afghanistan for now? And to reach the objective of a secured, safe Afghanistan society, what is needed more? The more number of police or more, better equipment for them, and did you talk about it with Japanese counterparts? Thank you very much.

DEPUTY SPECIAL REPRESENTATIVE FELDMAN: The need for increasing both the quantity and the quality of Afghan national security forces and by that I mean the army and the police, but particularly the police, is probably the number one priority at this point for the White House and it's shared by virtually all nations involved in the international effort. We can't begin this transitioning process unless we have an adequately trained, well-equipped, credible Afghan national security force to transition to. So obviously this is behind our very robust efforts to continue to put in place as many trainers as we can. All the training now is being centralized by the NTM-A under the command of General Caldwell. They have issued lists what their needs are. We have managed to close the gap on trainers to some degree over the last few months, but there still is quite a ways to go. At the NATO Ministerial right now in Tallinn, I think they've identified between 450 and 500 trainers still needed for the effort.

The assessment is that there's a lot of work to be done, particularly in policing. There is extremely high illiteracy rate, which is obviously critical if a policeman is to read ID badges or laws or anything else. So we are trying to make literacy training a requirement in all police training now [just as the] U.S. does. There is high drug addiction rate. There is a high attrition. For quite a long time the salaries were much less than the Afghan national army and the casualty rate was much higher, so it wasn't a particularly keen incentive. We've tried to raise all the salaries so that they are on par and, in fact, where they were raised just recently, again courtesy of the Government of Japan, in paying their salaries, we saw a much greater influx of recruits for the first time in quite a while. So the pool of applicants is there, but we have to do a much better job of training them. It's something that all nations are training are currently looking at how to do that most effectively, the length of the training, the curricula for the training, making sure that it's all as coordinated and synchronized as possible. We are trying to do as much of that training in Afghanistan as possible for efficiency reasons, for cost reasons, although we are looking at some niche training capabilities in other countries. We discussed it as just part of our much broader consultations here with the Japanese government and to inform them of the priorities that we see at this point in the ongoing efforts.

MODERATOR: I'd like come back to the point of safe society, I will go back to the floor, but building a safe society in Afghanistan requires not only energy for people who are going to provide economical health but also military assistance. How is this situation right now? Every day when I opened my newswire here, I've seen that there are explosions and people murdered and killed. How to build a safe society?

DEPUTY SPECIAL REPRESENTATIVE FELDMAN: Well, obviously trying to provide a secure environment is the condition precedent for doing all the civilian assistance that were trying to do, which is how we ultimately see stabilizing the country. It's because of the security situation that President Obama came to the conclusion last year to add the additional 30,000 troops that he announced at that point. We will almost triple the amount of U.S. troops on the ground since the beginning the Obama Administration. When he came into office, I think it was just over 30,000, about 34,000. By the time that this most recently announced buildup has been completed, towards the end of the summer, there will be close to 100,000 U.S. troops there. And that was the assessment of needs by General McChrystal and NATO ISAF. Now that we have the additional support not just from U.S. troops but also from other NATO countries, we are undertaking, what needs to be done in clearing and holding the key parts of the country. So this is what led to the Marjah campaign over the last few months and what will ultimately take us into the most important part of the military campaign upcoming as General McChrystal has laid out in Kandahar, the stronghold of the Taliban.

The military situation is difficult and complex, but we have made good progress and we will hopefully continue to make good progress using the model that we started in Marjah, which was working in very, very close coordination with the Afghan Government, having them be part of all the initial plans and having it be a true partnership both on the military and on the civilian side. The military has said that they have been quite with the initial efforts in Marjah, but the hard part – the military has a kind of clear, hold, build, and then transfer paradigm – and the hard part will be in the continuing effort to hold and build it and then ultimately transfer back to Afghan control. A lot of that will result in what we are able to do in the civilian assistance piece. We will be able to continue to provide good governance? Or will the Afghan Government be able to provide good governance, which will engender the trust of the Afghan people? Will they be able to provide the necessary rule of law mechanisms? Will there be economic opportunities in agriculture and connection to markets? Will there be the infrastructure that allows them to take advantage of that, from roads to school? Will there be health opportunities and educational opportunities. All that takes a great deal of time and will be unfolding over the next months. But the initial military aspects of it have been quite successful. Just last week, our Deputy Secretary of State Jack Lew was in Afghanistan and traveled to Marjah, walked down the main road of Marjah with a newly vibrant bazaar with lots of new shops and said the security situation is significantly better obviously that it was a month or two ago. But we're under no illusions that that's all that has to be done to create a stable environment.

QUESTION: (Inaudible) from Reuters. When we talk about international issues in Japan right now, especially in security issues, I think 90% of the portion goes to the Futenma relocation issue right now. Afghanistan and Pakistan are almost forgotten. Even as you mention that Japan contributed $5 billion assistance, Japan's actual counterinsurgency effort is limited. So, I'd like to know the real feeling and the mood inside the White House towards Japan right now. Could you tell us?

DEPUTY SPECIAL REPRESENTATIVE FELDMAN: Unfortunately, I can only talk from my very narrow perspective of Afghanistan and Pakistan. My office is inside the State Department, and not the White House, and our mandate is only on Afghanistan and Pakistan. But within that fairly narrow prism, the perception of Japan is an extremely positive one. It is one of our absolutely core partners not only because we are number one and number two in civilian assistance and therefore have to work together and consult frequently to make sure that our priorities are coordinated and in sync, but because of our political priorities in making sure that we are well aligned and how we are communicating, what we are communicating, and how we take part in the overall international architecture that we've developed for Afghanistan and Pakistan. Ambassador Holbrooke was the first special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, appointed by President Obama just two days after taking office. Since he's been appointed, over 30 special representatives have been appointed from countries around the world. Ambassador Yoshikawa is Japan's special representative and he plays an extremely important role in that collective and is a very important partner for us. I can't speak more broadly about Futenma and I'm happy to say that in my part of the world it's nothing but positive news in terms of our bilateral relationship with Japan.

QUESTION: Yoshio Murakami of the Asahi Shimbun. I have two questions. One is just to follow up the previous question. I fully understand by the way you explained that Japan's assistance is deeply valued and so forth, but how come these voices are not reflected in the United States? The only voices that we hear is all attacks on Japan. I think pretty soon the Japanese are going to start asking themselves, "Have there been any cases in the history, where two highly-developed countries, but one country maintains 85 military bases in a country smaller than the state of California over 60 years and still tries to maintain that when the world is changing so rapidly?" And I think inasmuch as there is indecisiveness on the policy on the part of the Hatoyama Cabinet, and I have nothing to do with him. What I'm trying to say, which leader of what country can have a definite strategy and plan to persuade and let the United States make concessions? I say none. I have seen many other countries in the past – West Germany, even the Soviet Union, whose foreign minister was fired because of a strong stand vis-à-vis the United States. I think it is important that – can I dare say the military's and conservatives' voices in the United States be persuaded to calm down, or the more calm voices like yours would be reflected because everybody knows that the United States cannot perform what it wants to in this part of the world all the way down to the Middle East -- without the providing full military and security cooperation by the Japanese. I don't see geopolitical-wise any other country in this part of the world that your country would like to keep in order to pursue the common policy and the strategy for both of our countries in the future to come.

My second question, which is really related to your area, if I may…it's a technical question. I understand that the drones are fully used in order to – the reconnaissance find the target of terrorists and the drones attack. And in the course of that, you create many casualties. In other words, in trying to eliminate one target of a terrorist once, you antagonize about a hundred local people and wouldn't that be better, if the target at the terrorists are mingled among the population in order to cover themselves up? Why don't they sort of confine them? Shield them off rather than try to attack one or two and sacrificing scores of people? Thank you.

DEPUTY SPECIAL REPRESENTATIVE FELDMAN: Two questions unfortunately that I'm not going to have too much to comment on. On your first, I think it's important to remember that there is not a monolithic view within the U.S. Government on any major priority or partner, and again, all I can comment on is the view of Japan within my sphere. But my sphere is an important one. It is the most important foreign policy imperative for the White House, for President Obama; it's at the centerpiece of what the State Department is seeking to do. It's at the centerpiece of what Congress and the American people are interested in on the foreign policy agenda. And in all of our interactions, the perception of Japan is an extremely positive one. Secretary Clinton singled Japan out in her comments at the London Conference about Afghanistan and Pakistan on the very positive leadership role it's playing in the reintegration trust fund. Ambassador Holbrooke talks about Japan's contributions, particularly on police salaries, constantly as a model for other countries. And in all of our interactions with the Hill, we are frequently testifying to various Congressional committees and speak frequently with key leaders, Senator Kerry, chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Chairman Berman, the chair of the House Foreign Relations Committee. We talk quite a bit about the role of the international community in donors and highlight the very positive role that Japan is playing. So, I don't think it's accurate to say that there is a single and certainly not a single negative perspective of Japan in the U.S.

On the second question, we unfortunately can't offer any comment on drones, although I would note that I don't think just in the open media sources about those attacks that you've seen about the types of stories that you described recently about mass casualties. So, but there's nothing further that I can add about any drone operations.

QUESTION: Hi, Terry Weaver with Stars and Stripes. I wanted to see during your visit here if there were any specific requests you made of Japan and how that went. Are you requesting, instead of money, some military help? Are you requesting more opportunities from a business-to-business exchange with a country like Japan and Afghanistan or even Pakistan to perhaps fill that kind of private sector role that perhaps the U.S. can't right now?

DEPUTY SPECIAL REPRESENTATIVE FELDMAN: I can truly honestly and unequivocally say that I came here with no asks. It was purely a trip to coordinate between two key partners on assistance issues. And it continues the very strong relationship I said that we've developed with Ambassador Yoshikawa in particular. He set up a number of key meetings with us yesterday at MOFA. We also had some meetings with JICA about all their development and infrastructure projects. We had a few informational meetings with the Ministry of Defense primarily so we could update them on recent campaigns and ongoing plans and we met with members of the Diet. But it was all as part of our continuing and ongoing consultative efforts.

QUESTION: Ivan Holt former correspondent in (inaudible) and retired Japan historian. I spent a year at the American Embassy in Kabul half a century ago in 1959 (inaudible). Much, much happier times, and I was wondering if you might give us some idea of the extent that the U.S. Government is leaning or feels it can lean on Karzai and running things through a centralized system in Afghanistan, as opposed to what I read many pundits say is that we should be working more with other centers of power. Not necessarily the warlords, but other centers of regional and political influence. For instance, the president and most of his cabinet are, I believe, Tajiks. And a lot of people (inaudible) problem in Afghanistan of course (inaudible) the majority Pashtuns. But, just if we're ready to put all our eggs in the Karzai basket or not. If you could, please.

DEPUTY SPECIAL REPRESENTATIVE FELDMAN: It's a very interesting question. President Karzai we consider the legitimately elected president of Afghanistan, and as such, he is our credible partner during the course of his administration for the next five years. So to a certain degree, we feel like we should and are continuing to put some, but not all, of our eggs in that basket. We have frequent contact with him. Frequent, much more positive contact than has been portrayed in the press of late. Our ambassador, Ambassador Eikenberry, meets with him quite frequently. Ambassador Holbrooke travels to the region at least once a month or so. He was there just about a week ago and had a very positive two-hour meeting with him along with our Deputy Secretary Lew and our USAID Administrator Dr. Shah. Secretary Clinton has quite a good relationship with President Karzai and obviously President Obama was just in Kabul a few weeks ago. So, continuing to interact frequently with him will remain a core part of our relationship, but we also want to emphasize that our relationship with the Afghan Government is not just with President Karzai. Therefore we think it's very important that on his upcoming trip to Washington he is bringing a number of his key ministers, potentially up to 10 of his ministers with him – a delegation of 35 or 40 people. We will engage much like did as I described in the Pakistan Strategic Dialogue on a series of core substantive areas. We will also have similar conversations that will be co-chaired by Afghan ministers and U.S. secretaries on everything from mining to rule of law to economic opportunities to policing to agriculture, as that is our chief non-security priority. The ministers by and large at this point are quite credible, very professional, frequently technocrat. The reason Ambassador Holbrooke was in Afghanistan 10 days ago was for a civilian-military drill, which a lot of the Afghan ministers participated in for the first time. President Karzai came as well, and it shows the decree of coordination that we are now seeking with the Afghan Government, but ministries beyond Karzai. And then lastly, beyond the central government we're spending a lot of time helping to develop sub-national governance features.

So we're working very closely with the head of the Directorate of Local Governance (IDLG) Popal. He was just in Washington this week continuing plans for the development of provincial and district governments, making sure that we tried to incorporate standards of good governance, non-corruption, and anticorruption into as many of those mechanisms as possible and working very closely with sub-national governance organs in our continuing policy. So we are taking a multi-tiered and multi-faceted approach towards our engagement with Afghan Government.

MODERATOR: I have a question for you. You talked in your introduction about the important issue of coordination. Well, you're working with 40, 45 countries. China is not involved right?

DEPUTY SPECIAL REPRESENTATIVE FELDMAN: China does not have troops or is not doing anything bilaterally in Afghanistan other than their direct investment. So, the Aynak copper mine is obviously a Chinese investment. They have committed to education, training, health activities around the Aynak mine, which they are continuing to do. They are an observer in some of our meetings of other SRAPs and so we do have contact with them. I led a delegation to Beijing of about 10 rep interagency team with DOD, Agriculture, USAID, other representatives last fall to talk about ways that they can continue to do more in Afghanistan and work both bilaterally and multilaterally. In their joint statement – President Obama came directly after my visit last November – they talked about the prioritization of doing work in Afghanistan and so they will continue to be involved, although they are not involved in the ongoing multilateral efforts.

MODERATOR: And among the countries who are involved in the 40 or 45 you have Russia. One thing Russia has mentioned recently from what I understand is the criticism against the lack sufficient inertia in making real strong policies against the poppy field cultivation and they are saying that they are invaded by poppies from Afghanistan and they made very strong criticism to U.S. and NATO. What can you answer to that?

DEPUTY SPECIAL REPRESENTATIVE FELDMAN: The counternarcotics policy was one of the first that we changed once Ambassador Holbrooke took over this portfolio last year and we moved away from a policy of eradication to one of interdiction. And more importantly we, instead of focusing solely on the counternarcotics, it was subsumed it to our broader policy of agricultural promotion. So to replace poppy with other high-yield crops – Afghanistan used to be a producer of nuts, pomegranates, apples, grapes – and obviously we need to rebuild that sector for there to be economic viability. So our switch in policy to one of introduction including targeting drug czars, precursor chemicals, and ending U.S.-led eradication efforts though still being supportive of any Afghan-led eradication efforts is one that by and large has been met with wide acclaim from the rest of the international community. The UNODC has been very supportive of this. The EU has been very supportive of these efforts. The one country that continues to favor just an eradication-led effort is Russia. And so we have a difference of opinion there. But our interests in curtailing counternarcotics is very much aligned, especially because so much of the narcotics winds up not only in Russia but also Iran and neighboring countries. So we have a combined goal of countering this more effectively. We think that our change in policy is yielding real effects right now. We'll see more by the end of the poppy season. We frequently talk about this in our bilateral conversations with the Russians and ways that we can continue to work together even though we have a difference of philosophy.

QUESTION: Jason Pratt with the Embassy of Afghanistan in Tokyo. I'd like to first thank you for everything you've said today. It's been amazing to have you come here for our two partners, Japan and the U.S., to speak together on reconstruction and development of Afghanistan. The points you've made here have been excellent and I'm very impressed with the amount of dedication that your visit has reinforced. Regarding the last gentleman's question, I'd like to follow up a little bit. When we were talking about all of the "eggs in one basket" and you mention such as Minister Popal. I believe he's still – we would consider that going through President Karzai's government. But I was wondering if you could elaborate upon what some of these other baskets may be, if that's in conjunction with just different levels of the same central government or if you had some other channels you were going through. Thank you.

DEPUTY SPECIAL REPRESENTATIVE FELDMAN: Clearly Minister Popal is part of the central government, but his writ is to expand national sub-national government entities and he is the main interlocutor we have for all the sub-national government entities. So I wasn't suggesting that there was anything around the current Afghan Government, but we are working as closely as possible directly with key governors, with key provincial and district leaders. It is organized through the central government, but it was just to try to give a sense of the breadth of our contacts with the Afghan Government. Even though obviously the central one is with the president, as with any government it's got to be far broader to be most effective.

MODERATOR: One issue and one word we haven't pronounced here is the word Taliban, or I haven't heard it. How do you proceed? How do you try to approach and rebuild trust eventually? If not, they will join again the insurgency forces. So how do you deal with them?

DEPUTY SPECIAL REPRESENTATIVE FELDMAN: We may not have said the actual name Taliban, but I think a lot of what we've been discussing is obviously geared toward the Taliban. Everything that has to do with the reintegration in which our reference is obviously reintegrating Taliban forces, everything on countering extremism and radicalization is countering Taliban influence so I think it has been obviously a subtext of many of our comments and obviously it's is the main priority of ours. On the reintegration efforts in particular, this will be a critical initiative in the months and longer ahead. Obviously President Karzai has laid out his initial plans on reintegration and his desire for reconciliation at the London Conference and his inaugural speech and elsewhere.

The peace jirga is meant in part to come to a national consensus on reintegration and reconciliation. Minister Stanekzai is working very carefully on these reintegration plans and they'll be unveiled before or at the latest at the Kabul Conference. We draw this distinction between reintegration and reconciliation – reintegration being bringing the non-ideological Taliban off the battlefield, so those who may be there because of their payment or because it's part of a prior disputes or for any other reasons. We've said there are several key components of this reintegration of former Taliban.

First and most important as I said before that this has to be an Afghan-led effort. And second of all that we would support any reintegration efforts that meet our three red lines – that Taliban renounce Al Qaeda, that they lay down their arms, and that they embrace the constitution and laws of Afghanistan and particularly those supporting the empowerment of women.

So these are the reintegration efforts that are currently ongoing. We estimate it could be well in excess of 50%, 60-70% of the Taliban that we hope to reintegrate by having them lay down their weapons through education and training, to provide them with more jobs and economic opportunities, and ultimately reintegrating them into communities. The reconciliation piece is the piece where I think the press and the public story is far ahead of where we actually are in terms of any sort of political dialogue with the political leadership of the Taliban, the Quetta shura or others, and that also will be highly dependent on what happens over the coming months. But again, that will be an Afghan-led process.

In terms of the other aspects of the Taliban you referenced, the countering extremism is something that we are seeking to do through new and revamped communications and counterpropaganda programming, through more educational opportunities, through promoting a more mainstream brand of Islam, and obviously, by engaging Pakistan in eliminating the safe havens for the Taliban in Pakistan. So the issues you raise are obviously threaded through many of the other things that we've discussed.

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