Remarks With Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

John Kerry
Secretary of State
Camp David
March 23, 2015

SECRETARY KERRY: Well, good morning, everybody. On behalf of President Obama, Vice President Biden, and the entire Administration and my fellow secretaries, we are very, very pleased to welcome Dr. Ashraf Ghani, the president of Afghanistan, and Dr. Abdullah Abdullah, the chief executive officer, to Camp David. President Obama thought it would be a good idea to invite the president to come to Camp David, which is historically a place of diplomacy when it is not the retreat for the President. And we are gathered here with the entire security team of the President in order to spend a quiet, thoughtful day in an atmosphere of open discussion in order to talk about the remarkable transition that is taking place in Afghanistan.

This is President Ghani’s first visit to Washington since the peaceful transfer of power in Afghanistan in a democratic process for the first time in history, and also the first time in history a unity government. Both Dr. Abdullah and President Ghani took great steps to make that happen. So he has an extraordinarily busy schedule: a full day of discussions today; a visit to the White House, a lengthy one, tomorrow; a joint session of Congress address; a trip to New York to meet with the secretary-general; and a lot of meetings in between with economists, journalists, various women’s groups, NGOs, and others here in Washington.

So we have a lot of work to do. We’re delighted to be able to enjoy these remarkable surroundings as a place to really talk about the future of Afghanistan. (Inaudible.)

PRESIDENT GHANI: Good morning. First of all, Dr. Abdullah and I are here with our team to say a very big thank you to the American public, American Administration, American Congress for selfless support over the years. The partnership of the United States is foundational for the government of national unity, and we are delighted to have the full team to discuss a changing context and to be able to affirm a partnership that is based on value, respect for democratic process, electoral reforms, comprehensive reforms of the economy, governance, and related issues.

Our message is one that it’s time for Afghanistan to reciprocate the gift that the United States has so generously provided over the years. Reciprocating the gift means owning our problems, solving them, and asking of ourselves what we must do for ourselves and for the region. We pursue a very active diplomacy at the regional level, at the Arab-Islamic level, and global level. This is a remarkable opportunity for us to discuss issues in depth, to be able to say thank you again, and to put the strategic partnership agreement and the bilateral security agreement into an operational (inaudible).

So thank you, Mr. Secretary, for your personal engagement. Thank you to Secretary Carter, Secretary Lew – old friends of ours. We are all looking very much forward to an in-depth discussion and open environment, and thank you for allowing us to remove the ties. (Laughter.)

SECRETARY KERRY: We have a lot of work to do. We’re going to go do it, and we’ll, all of us, have a chance to talk with you when we finish. Thank you.