Mr. INHOFE. Madam President, this afternoon it is my understanding we are going to have one more vote. It is going to be on the Travel Promotion Act. I have opposed this in the past. I have already voted against it three times. I am not going to hang here and waste the whole day just to vote against it a fourth time.
I ask unanimous consent that I make a very brief statement and it be printed in the Record immediately following the vote that takes place this afternoon.
Mr. SPECTER. Madam President, I have sought recognition to talk briefly about two subjects: a recent CODEL where I participated and, secondly, on the passing of a beloved staff member. I ask unanimous consent that the time for business be extended until 12:45.
Mr. SPECTER. Madam President, from December 28 to January 7, I participated on a congressional delegation which visited in Cypress, Syria, India, [Page: S762]
Afghanistan, and Morocco, and have submitted a lengthy report, which is my practice.
I ask unanimous consent that the full text of that report be printed in the Record at the end of my remarks.
Mr. SPECTER. For purposes of comment at this time, I will focus on what we found on our trip to Afghanistan and India as it relates to the current war in progress in Afghanistan which has, as a practical matter, been extended into Pakistan and a comment about our trip to Syria, our meetings with President Assad, as it bears upon the potential for a peace treaty between Israel and Syria.
Our visit to Afghanistan was very revealing to get a firsthand impression as to what is going on on the ground. I approached the trip with serious reservations about the President's proposal to add an additional 30,000 troops there. My concern arose in the context of why fight in Afghanistan when al-Qaida could organize as well in many other places, Yemen or Somalia. There had been such a lack of success in efforts in Afghanistan by the Soviets, by the Brits, going all the way back to Alexander
There is no doubt we have to do whatever it takes to defeat al-Qaida, because they are out to annihilate us. The question is, where? Where we face reports that there were only about 100 al-Qaida actually in Afghanistan, we are really looking at a battle with the Taliban.
In our meetings with General McChrystal and other key officials, they emphasized the point that we should not retreat and that it would be a watershed event if the United States did not provide whatever military force was necessary in Afghanistan.
Our delegation replied that the NATO support was lacking and we ought to rethink exactly how we are going to deal with the Taliban. The efforts to persuade the Taliban to come back and support the Karzai government--because there are many there who could be brought back if the inducements were sufficient and they were sufficiently confident--the Karzai government did not lend a whole lot to inspire confidence. They had an election which was clouded with fraud. They have sustained reports about
dealing in the narcotics trade with high-ranking officials, repeated evidence of corruption at the highest levels--hardly inducive to a stable government.
When the President projected a withdrawal by mid-2011, that was not what President Karzai had suggested. He was quoted in the press as saying, U.S. troops would have to be in Afghanistan for 15 years. When our delegation had an opportunity to meet with President Karzai, we pressed him on that issue, and he said: Well, 2 years would be required for an adequate presence of the U.S. military. He never could quite define what ``adequate'' was, but he said U.S. forces would have to stay for another
More recently, in the intervening weeks, the war there has shaped up. We still have only committed a small fraction of the 30,000 troops--something like 5,000. Perhaps it will not be necessary to commit the additional 25,000 troops.
We had a very productive meeting with the Prime Minister of India, Prime Minister Singh. A point which we pressed was whether India and Pakistan could enter into an arms reduction pact similar to the pacts which the United States and the Soviet Union have had, which would reduce the number of troops from India and the number of troops from Pakistan on the border to liberate more Pakistan military to help in the fight against al-Qaida and the Taliban.
Prime Minister Singh said he would certainly be willing to consider that, but Pakistan would have to control the terrorists. We questioned him as to whether the Pakistani Government could control the terrorists, and his reply was very blunt: Yes, the terrorists are the creation of Pakistan, which is the way he responded to that situation.
In the intervening weeks, again, there has been unique cooperation between Pakistani intelligence and the CIA, with many joint maneuvers, so perhaps there could be a material improvement along that line.
The written text, which will be submitted, goes into some greater detail, which I shall abbreviate because of the shortness of time.
In Syria, our meeting with President Bashar al-Asad was cordial and I think constructive. I had first visited Syria in 1984, and this was the 19th visit there. I have gone there repeatedly, as I have to the region generally, and even more often to Israel, because I have long thought Syria was the key to the Mideast peace process.
Syria desperately wants to regain the Golan Heights, and only Israel can decide whether it is in Israel's interest to cede the Golan Heights. But it is a different world in 2010 than it was in 1967, when Israel took the Golan. The strategy is very different in an era of rockets. It is not quite the same situation.
There is a great deal Israel could gain if a peace treaty was entered into with Syria: stopping Syria from continuing the destabilization of Lebanon, which Syria denies but I think happens to be a fact. For Syria to stop supporting Hezbollah and Hamas would be very important to Israel's security. To try to drive a wedge between Syria and Iran would be helpful not only to Israel in the context of the Iranian President wanting to wipe Israel off the face of the Earth but would be good not only
for the region but for the entire world, if we can find a way to contain Iran in their determination to acquire nuclear weapons.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton testified yesterday before the Foreign Operations Subcommittee, and I asked her if she would consider a recommendation to have the President call the Israeli leaders, Prime Minister Netanyahu, and the Syrian President, Bashar al-Asad, to the Oval Office to be an intermediary there. The office of the Presidency could have great forcefulness and great weight. The Secretary was noncommittal, and the record will reflect the exact words which she used.
The trip was very worthwhile. I find that when we leave the Beltway and leave Washington and see what is actually happening in the field, wearing a flak jacket in a helicopter across Afghanistan or talking to Foreign Minister Walid Mualem, who was the Ambassador here for 10 years, and getting a feel for what is going on in India, it gives us a much better insight into how we handle our foreign aid, how we handle our budget, and how we handle our military operations.
Statement of Senator Arlen Specter
I seek recognition to speak about a Congressional Delegation I took part in from December 28, 2009 to January 7, 2010. The CODEL, led by Senator Gregg, comprised of Senators Bayh, Cornyn, Enzi, Klobuchar and their spouses. I was accompanied by my wife, Joan, and my Legislative Director, Christopher Bradish.
We departed Andrews Air Force Base on Monday morning, December 28th, en route to Nicosia, Cyprus, with a refueling stop in Shannon, Ireland. We began the day with a meeting with our USAID mission to review projects being supported by the United States.
We then had a briefing with the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), which is focusing on reconciliation projects, to include media expansion. The UNDP office is located in the U.N. administered neutral zone, which divides the island. The UNDP continues to work with representatives in Cyprus on revision of textbooks and the diversification of media to allow viewpoints other than those of just the state-dominated media outlets to be heard.
The media is dominated by Turkish Cypriot and Greek Cypriot political outlets. Cyprus does not have equivalents of NPR or PBS. UNDP hopes to build on those models to allow diversification in the media by providing independent programming which can then be picked up by existing outlets for broadcast. The UNDP media program aims to provide all Cypriots with a non-partisan avenue of communication.
Following our meeting with USAID and UNDP officials, the delegation held a country team briefing led by Jonathan Cohen, our Deputy Chief of Mission. Our embassy in Cyprus has 65 U.S. employees in addition to roughly 100 Cypriot nationals. Cyprus has become increasingly important to the U.S. due to its strategic location. With an increasing number of U.S. ships transiting the Mediterranean Sea, U.S. port visits in Cyprus increased 24 percent in 2008. With thousands of U.S. troops having shore
leave while in port, the U.S. Embassy has worked with the Cypriot government to ensure that appropriate safety measures are in place to protect our ships and sailors. [Page: S763]
Since Cyprus' accession to the European Union in January 2004, the number of Cypriots attending U.S. universities has decreased dramatically. The U.S. mission has created a program to use Cypriots who are alumni of U.S. universities to go to high schools and communities to speak about the benefits of an education in the United States.
On the law enforcement front, the Cypriot government has utilized U.S. expertise in some of their criminal investigations, including the investigation into the recent theft of the remains of former president Tassos Papadopoulos.
We received an overview of U.S. investment in Cyprus as well as U.S. businesses operating on the island. U.S. exports to Cyprus grew by 28 percent in 2008. I asked about the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center's efforts to establish a university and medical center in Cyprus. UPMC is exporting its expertise to bring world-class health care, advanced technologies, and management skills to markets worldwide.
Our mission provided an update on the status of negotiations between the north and south. Talks between the Greek Cypriot President, Demetris Christofias and the Turkish Cypriot leader, Mehmet Ali Talat have ramped up in recent weeks with the two leaders reportedly meeting multiple times a week. However significant obstacles remain to reaching an agreement to include how to resolve vexing property, security and constituent state constitution issues.
In November 2002, U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan presented a draft comprehensive peace settlement, commonly referred to as the Annan Plan. According to the Congressional Research Service:
``[The Annan Plan] called for a ``new state of affairs,'' in which the ``common state'' government's relations with its two politically equal component states would be modeled on the Swiss federal example. It would have a single international legal personality. Component states would participate in foreign and EU relations as in Belgium. Parliament would have two 48-seat houses. Each state would have equal representation in the Senate. Seats in the Chamber of Deputies would be allocated in proportion
to population, provided that no state would have less than 25% of the seats. A Presidential Council would have 6 members; the offices of President and Vice President would rotate every 10 months among its members. No more than two consecutive presidents could come from the same state. Greek and Turkish troops could not exceed a four-digit figure (9,999). U.N. peacekeepers would remain as long as the common state, with the concurrence of the component states, decides. Cyprus would be demilitarized.
During a three-year transition, the leaders of the two sides would be co-presidents. The 1960 Treaties of Establishment, Guarantee, and Alliance would remain in force. There would be a single Cypriot citizenship and citizenship of a component state; residence in a component state could be limited by citizenship, but such limits would have restrictions. Provisions would be made for return or compensation of property. Turkish Cypriot territory would be reduced to 28.5% of the island.
The Delegation departed the country team briefing for a meeting with Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat. Talat provided an overview of the negotiations with President Christofias and focused on three main areas of dispute: governance and power sharing; economic and European affairs; and property reconciliation. While he expressed hope about having fruitful and productive discussions, he indicated that the two sides have disagreements over terminology
which preclude them from moving forward on a solution. I asked if there were disadvantages to not achieving a solution and if the status-quo is acceptable. Talat responded that neither side seeks violence, but that the current situation is disadvantageous to both sides.
Talat expressed optimism that a resolution could be reached in 2010 but that the talks would likely break in mid-February to allow for elections, the outcome of which could have a significant impact on the continuation of talks between the two sides. Talat indicated that the Greek Cypriots have less of an incentive to find a solution given their dominance of the island. He also confirmed the UNDP representatives' previous assertions that the local media helps inflame opinions on both sides.
The delegation then departed the north en route to a meeting with President Christofias. The President opened the meeting with a 37-minute overview of the situation and the negotiations. He expressed concern over the more than 40,000 Turkish troops on the island, as well as the unknown number of Turkish settlers. He too focused on security and land/property compensation as main obstacles to achieving an agreement. Christofias avowed that he is ``free of nationalism'' and that ``Turkish Cypriots
are not our enemies, but our brothers and sisters.'' He concluded that Cypriots must rule the country--not Turkey. He stated that he ``will be the unhappiest man on the island'' if he and Talat cannot reach an agreement, but stated: ``I will do my utmost because as time passes, new problems arise.'' He indicated he had a good partner and relationship with Talat and if he should lose in the upcoming elections, the prospects for constructive dialogue and resolution were poor.
On December 30th, the delegation departed Larnaca, Cyprus for Damascus, Syria. This was my nineteenth visit to Syria. We were greeted by Jason Smith, our control officer, and Charles Hunter, our Charge d'Affaires, who provided an update of the situation on the ground during the ride to the embassy. Upon arrival, the delegation received two classified briefings to include a country team briefing. Following our briefings, the delegation departed for the Presidential Palace for a meeting with President
Bashar al-Asad and Foreign Minister Walid al-Muallem.
President Asad opened the meeting by welcoming the delegation and provided his views on the bilateral relationship as well as regional tensions. I have long held the view that the U.S. could play a positive role in fostering an agreement between Israel and Syria. I indicated that if Hezbollah and Hamas could be disarmed and renounce violence the region would be better off. I expressed the view held by many in the U.S. that the Syria-Iran nexus is troubling and Iran's desire to obtain nuclear
weapons poses a danger to the region and the world. I complimented President Asad for his willingness to engage the Israelis via the Turks. I asked President Asad for his view on the prospects for an Israeli-Syrian peace, better relations with the West and his country's relationship with Iran. He indicated that the ``devil
is in the details.'' He explicitly decoupled the issues, stating that his country's calculus for each is independent of the others. He indicated the U.S. should support the Turkish role in the peace process--which has been put on hold following the conflict in Gaza in 2008 and Israel's parliamentary elections in 2009.
Asad stated, ``only peace can protect Israel''--something no amount of armaments can do. He further stated that Hamas and Hezbollah exist as result of the lack of peace. On the U.S. role in the peace process, Asad pointed to efforts undertaken in the 1990s, when Secretary of State James Baker engaged forcefully with the interested parties.
It is clear to me that Syria desires robust U.S. engagement in the peace process. Syria's tepid alliance with Iran appears not to be bound by mutual affection, but rather by Syria's desire to be on good terms with a regional force. Syria clearly wants the U.S. to withdraw from Iraq, but not before Iraqi domestic institutions have time to mature to prevent Iran from sweeping in to a political vacuum.
We discussed the issue of intelligence cooperation. The good cooperation Syria and the U.S. had following September 11, 2001 has since dissipated. The delegation pressed Asad for more cooperation. Asad confirmed that cooperation had been good, but said that security and intelligence cooperation cannot flourish in the absence of strong political and diplomatic relations.
The delegation pressed Asad on the Iranian nuclear threat and the potential for Syria to be dragged into a regional conflict. Assad indicated that the Iranian issue needs to be resolved and that conflict must be prevented, but that he does not believe Iran is seeking a nuclear military capability.
Senator Klobuchar and I raised the issue of the three American citizens--Joshua Fattal, Shane Bauer, and Sarah Shourd--who have been detained in Iran since July 31, 2009, when they mistakenly crossed into Iran on a hiking expedition.
The United Kingdom had asked Syria to intercede with Iran in the case of five British citizens who were in Iranian custody under somewhat similar circumstances. The five citizens were released.
Since the start of their detention, I had worked with other members of the Senate to facilitate their release. On August 18, I joined Senators Casey, Feinstein, Boxer, Klobuchar, Franken and Murray in writing to the Iranian Ambassador to the U.N. Mohammad Khazaee to request that Iran grant the Swiss consular access to the Americans per Iran's obligations under the Vienna Convention. This letter was followed by a similar one to Ayatollah Khamenei on September 23, 2009.
On September 22, I introduced a resolution cosponsored by Senators Casey, Feinstein, Boxer, Klobuchar, Franken, and Nelson (FL) encouraging the Government of Iran to grant consular access for the Swiss and to allow Joshua Fattal, Shane Bauer, and Sarah Shourd to reunite with their families in the United States as soon as possible. The legislation passed the Senate on October 6, and passed the House on October 29, sponsored by Reps. Schwartz and Hinchey.
On October 8, I sent a personal note to Ambassador Khazaee requesting his assistance in releasing the hikers.
On December 17, 2009 I sent a letter to Secretary Clinton requesting she ask the Syrians to engage Tehran to secure the release of the three Americans. The State Department contacted the Syrian foreign ministry to seek its assistance in a manner similar to the assistance the Syrians provided to the recent efforts to secure the release of the five British yachtsmen detained by Iran in late November after they strayed into Iranian waters. The five Brits were released within a week.
President Asad said they would look into the matter including the charges to see if Syria could be of help in securing their release. President Asad told me he would review the matter and that the Syrians ``will try our best.''
Later that evening Senator Klobuchar and I had a working dinner with Foreign Minister Walid al-Muallem. I have known Foreign Minister Muallem for two decades dating back to his time as Ambassador to the [Page: S764]
United States. We discussed in depth the issues raised earlier with the President. We again pressed the Foreign Minister on the issue of the U.S. hikers detained in Iran. Foreign Minister Muallem indicated he would be willing to go to Tehran to engage
his counterpart regarding the plight of the hikers if he sees ``some light at the end of the tunnel.''
We departed Damascus the following morning for Delhi, India and where we were met by Deputy Chief of Mission Steven White. The issues we discussed were wide-ranging and included: nuclear cooperation between the United States and India; the November 2008 terrorist attacks in India and India's efforts to combat terrorism; India's tenuous relations with Pakistan and China; its economic and diplomatic presence in Afghanistan; and the position it has taken in global climate change negotiations, in
which it has opposed binding emissions reductions as limits on its future economic growth. As the world's second most populous country, it is clear that India will play an increasing role in global politics this century.
The delegation participated in a country team briefing at our mission. We had the opportunity to discuss a wide variety of issues in our bilateral relationship with the DCM, political section, defense attaché, USAID and consular affairs officers.
Much of our discussions during our visit focused on India's growth and the growing pains associated with such growth, to include education. While 92 percent of the country's children go to primary school, half drop out by 6th grade. Many of India's 1.2 billion citizens live in rural regions and getting teachers to those posts is difficult. The country has engaged in an affirmative action for children of lower castes to attend university, but these reserved spots are extraordinarily competitive.
Yet, the government of India is committed to inclusive growth and bringing the lower class up to participate in India's prosperity.
A central theme in our discussions with our mission personnel as well as Indian officials was the civil nuclear accord signed by the U.S. and India. On October 1, 2008, Congress approved an agreement facilitating nuclear cooperation between the United States and India. As chronicled by the Council on Foreign Relations, the deal, first introduced in a joint statement issued by President Bush and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on July 18, 2005, ``lifts a three-decade U.S. moratorium on nuclear
trade with India. It provides U.S. assistance to India's civilian nuclear energy program, and expands U.S.-India cooperation in energy and satellite technology'' (CFR--11/20/09). During our meetings, this agreement was described as a ``watershed'' event in our bilateral relationship--an event that opened new doors, new cooperation and new possibilities for two countries that have spent the majority of their histories circling each other but not directly engaging in a meaningful manner.
According to our officials, India is taking steps to be a responsible world power on nonproliferation matters. India has supported international efforts, along with the United States, to address Iran's troubling military nuclear ambitions--most recently by supporting an IAEA censure of Iran's nuclear program during a November 27, 2009 meeting of the IAEA's Board of Governors. This has led to a cooling between the two countries, yet India and Iran still have deep economic connections, as Iran
is India's second largest energy supplier.
On the economic front, India's economy was more sheltered than others and weathered the global economic crisis better than many. Their economy grew 6.8 percent in 2009 and is expected to grow 7.5 percent in 2010. India has increasingly sought and purchased U.S. weaponry. The deepening of the bilateral arms sales are a critical component of our relationship.
On the terrorism front, I pressed the team on the prospect of reconciliation between India and Pakistan in the hopes that a reduction in tensions would allow Pakistan to focus its forces on elements such as Al-Qaeda.
India is no stranger to terrorism, most recently seen in the horrific attacks in Mumbai on November 26, 2008, which killed at least 173 people, including 6 Americans. Our mission and its law enforcement components have provided assistance to the Indians in the investigation of the attacks.
Following the country team briefing, the delegation took a classified regional security briefing before departing for the Prime Minister's office.
I have long been concerned about Indian-Pakistani relations. I brought up the issue of an Indian-Pakistani rapprochement during a visit to India in 1995. In August 1995, Senator Hank Brown and I were told by Prime Minister Rao in a visit to New Delhi that India was interested in negotiating with Pakistan to make their subcontinent free of nuclear weapons. Prime Minister Rao asked Senator Brown and me to raise this issue with Pakistan's Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto which we did. I then wrote
to President Clinton urging him to broker such negotiations. Those discussions are summarized in a letter which I sent to President Clinton:
August 28, 1995.
DEAR MR. PRESIDENT: I think it important to call to your personal attention the substance of meetings which Senator Hank Brown and I have had in the last two days with Indian Prime Minister Rao and Pakistan Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto.
Prime Minister Rao stated that he would be very interested in negotiations which would lead to the elimination of any nuclear weapons on his subcontinent within ten or fifteen years including renouncing first use of such weapons. His interest in such negotiations with Pakistan would cover bilateral talks or a regional conference which would include the United States, China and Russia in addition to India and Pakistan.
When we asked Prime Minister Bhutto when she had last talked to Prime Minister Rao, she said that she had no conversations with him during her tenure as Prime Minister. Prime Minister Bhutto did say that she had initiated a contact through an intermediary but that was terminated when a new controversy arose between Pakistan and India.
From our conversations with Prime Minister Rao and Prime Minister Bhutto, it is my sense that both would be very receptive to discussions initiated and brokered by the United States as to nuclear weapons and also delivery missile systems.
I am dictating this letter to you by telephone from Damascus so that you will have it at the earliest moment. I am also telefaxing a copy of this letter to Secretary of State Warren Christopher.
After returning to the United States, I discussed such a presidential initiative with President Clinton, but my suggestion was not pursued.
The delegation had a warm welcome from Prime Minister Singh. The Prime Minister began the meeting by thanking the delegation for Congress' strong bipartisan support in implementing the U.S.-India bilateral nuclear accord. He further declared that this event has made him believe the ``sky is the limit'' in terms of broadening and deepening the U.S.-India bilateral relationship, from energy to defense to education.
Prime Minister Singh confirmed that his economy continues to grow, and was insulated from the global fiscal difficulties largely because of India's savings rate and that domestic consumption filled much of the void left by lagging exports. He told the group that India's prosperity will have positive effects on the rest of the developing world. He expressed his strong desire to deepen the defense cooperation between our countries.
The group asked the Prime Minister for his views on Afghanistan. He informed the group that India has invested $1.2 billion in reconstruction and development in Afghanistan. While he admitted the existence of corruption within the Karzai government, he indicated that President Karzai is the best option for stability, and that all will benefit from strong international support for Karzai. He stated that deadlines and withdrawal will only play into the hands of the terrorists, as they will signal
looming weakness of the government in Kabul.
I pressed the Prime Minister on the prospects for relieving tensions between his country and Pakistan and the possibility of having an accord on troops and nuclear weapons. If Pakistan will take action against the terrorist elements in its country, India would be willing to discuss many things, Singh stated. Prime Minister Singh told the group of the strong internal pressure he felt after the Mumbai attacks to take some action against Pakistan, but that he refrained. He further told the group
that Pakistanis and Indians are the same--highlighting that he was born in what today is Pakistan and that former Pakistani President Pervez Musharaff was born in what is present day India. He told the group that Pakistan does not need to fear India and that he is committed to engaging in a positive manner with Pakistan. He suggested that serious reform in Pakistan's education system is needed and that madrassas are a significant problem.
I asked Prime Minister Singh whether India would consider a treaty with Pakistan to reduce military forces stationed by each nation on the border. I told him of my 1995 conversations with Prime Minister Rao and Prime Minister Bhutto and my letter to President Clinton. I noted that it would be a great help in the war against al-Qaeda if Pakistan could re-deploy significant soldiers from the border to fight al-Qaeda.
I analogized an Indian-Pakistan treaty to the U.S.-Soviet arms reduction treaties. If India and Pakistan could agree on disclosure and reduced forces, that would liberate Pakistani troops. Prime Minister Singh said India would be willing to consider such a treaty, but pointed out that Pakistan would have to control Pakistan terrorists such as the ones who attacked the hotel in Mumbai. He said he had been under considerable pressure to respond forcefully, but had not done so. Many feared that
the Mumbai hotel attack and a forceful India response could have set off a nuclear exchange.
I asked Prime Minister Singh pointedly if the Pakistan government could control the terrorists and he responded ``yes.'' He added the terrorists were the ``creation'' of the Pakistan government.
Regarding Iran, Prime Minister Singh told the group India was not in favor of another nuclear power in the region and doesn't want Iran to have that capability. Prime Minister Singh highlighted his country's support at the United Nations to address Iran's nuclear ambitions. He indicated that Iran is a signatory to the NPT, and as such is entitled to [Page: S765]
enrich uranium for peaceful purposes, but that they must comply with international accords to reassure
the international community of their peaceful intentions.
Following our meeting with the Prime Minister, I returned to the embassy for a meeting with Robert Hladun, the Deputy Country Attache for the DEA and Gib Wilson, the Assistant Legal Attache for the FBI. I received an overview of the regional drug trade and how it impacts the U.S., and our cooperation and assistance to India with their investigations and counterterrorism efforts.
The Deputy Chief of Mission hosted a working lunch with our counterparts from the Indian National Congress including: Pallam Raju, Minister of State for Defense, Jitin Prasada, Minister of State for Petroleum and Natural Gas, Abhishek Manu Singhvi, Manish Tewari, Prakash Javadekar, Raashid Alvi, Madhu Goud Yashki and Deepender Singh Hooda. Our discussions centered on the same topics we had discussed with Prime Minister Singh and the country team, but also provided us an opportunity to discuss
how, as parliamentarians, we deal with local and national issues of importance to our constituents. Following lunch, we departed Delhi for Morocco, with a refueling stop in Qatar.
On January 3, 2010, the delegation flew from New Delhi to Kabul, Afghanistan and returned to New Delhi late on the same day. Upon arrival at the U.S. Embassy, we were greeted by General Stanley McChrystal and Ambassadors Anthony Wayne and Francis Ricciardone.
General McChrystal outlined a strategy aimed at influencing the Karzai government to institute reforms to win the support of the Afghan people so that many of the insurgents would support the Karzai government and reject the efforts of the Taliban to win control. He acknowledged some of the insurgents who supported the Taliban leadership would stay with the Taliban, so that the Taliban and their supporters would have to be defeated militarily.
I asked General McChrystal why fight in Afghanistan when others--the Soviets, the British, Alexander the Great had failed--and al-Qaeda could organize strikes against the U.S. and others from Yemen, Somalia and elsewhere and the U.S. was engaging only a small number of al-Qaeda (estimated by some as few as 100) and really only fighting the Taliban. General McChrystal responded that U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan would have disastrous consequences in the region and beyond and that al-Qaeda would
continue to have their best sanctuary in the caves and mountains on the border regions between Afghanistan and Pakistan.
I asked him about the reality of significant withdrawal by mid-2011, pointing out that the commitment to start the withdrawal could be met by a small withdrawal which would not be significant. He did not respond on a date for final withdrawal, but said the mid-2011 start of withdrawal was a realistic exit strategy.
When I pointed out that President Karzai had publicly stated U.S. troops would be needed for 15 years, General McChrystal did not modify his previously stated estimates.
When our Codel later met with President Karzai asked when he thought Afghanistan would be able to maintain the peace and function on its own without any U.S. troops. He said that if the resources were ``adequate,'' that U.S. troops could start withdrawal in two years with full withdrawal after 10 years. There was insufficient time to clarify with President Karzai what resources would be ``adequate'' or what the timetable would be as to estimates of how many troops could be withdrawn each year.
We received a brief on the status of the Afghan Army and were informed that it is well respected by much of the population and is seen by many as an entity that holds the promise of binding the nation. The police force is in poorer shape: corruption and involvement in the drug trade, combined with a chronic lack of leadership, hamper its improvement. Only 25 percent of the police force has formal training.
The delegation then proceeded to a country team briefing. Our mission in Afghanistan has four ambassadors--a rare occurrence, but one that is necessary given the complexity of the issues and the size of the mission.
We discussed the significant monetary investment being made in Afghanistan, with $250 million alone spent on the civilian side each month, and once the additional 30,000 troops arrive the cost will rise to between $9 and $10 billion per month for the entire U.S. effort. When asked to discuss the national security significance to U.S., Major General MacDonald stated that Afghanistan is the extremists' base, threat exists and they have resources in Afghanistan. I pressed the team to rationalize
the disparity between President Obama saying we begin withdrawing in 2011 and President Karzai saying that it will take 15 years for his security forces to be ready to stand on their own. I pressed them on how quickly we can train security forces so the U.S. could turn over responsibility and again shared the concern by many over U.S. debt, deficit and obligations at home.
Lieutenant General Caldwell outlined the efforts to develop the police and ministries of defense and interior. He highlighted the issue of lacking an effective afghan civil service. He told us that an Afghan soldier makes $165 a month whereas a judge makes only $80. Clearly, civilian pay reform is needed.
I pressed the officials on getting the international community to carry its weight. They replied that the U.S. requested 2,500 troops on December 1, 2009 and NATO pledged 460, and U.S. officials are now going around Kabul asking each country's ambassador for additional troops. I again pressed them on when we can finally leave. They stated that governance,
economy and security need to all be working in tandem and that 300,000 Afghan security forces will be ready by July 2011.
The delegation arrived in Rabat, Morocco at 1 AM on January 5th where we were met by Ambassador Samuel Kaplan. Our Codel was very impressed with him. There is considerable debate about ``political appointees,'' but Ambassador Kaplan brought unique skills to this position from a distinguished career in the law, considerable business experience, and extensive activity in political and community affairs.
We met with Foreign Minister Fassi-Fihri and Director General Mohamed Mansouri. The Foreign Minster told the delegation he was pleased with the status of relations between our two countries and the deepening in the relationship on issues such as trade and defense and intelligence cooperation. The Foreign Minister explained Morocco's unique position in the world, with one foot in the Mid-East and one in Africa. He described the difficulty his country has had in establishing a democratic system,
permitting political parties while maintaining a democracy.
Much of our discussion focused on terrorism and prospects for peace in the region. Director General Mansouri stated that terrorists have manipulated Islam and that Morocco has pushed for a more moderate approach and that it is engaged in combating radicalism. I pressed the Foreign Minister on recent incidents of terrorism and what can be done to combat the ideology that inspires suicide bombers and their skewed religious/political views. He told me that many in the Muslim world are frustrated--especially
the youth. They lack educational and economic opportunities and poverty has led many to extremist camps. Yet, we also discussed how many terrorists, including those that perpetrated 9/11 and most recently the Detroit airline bombing attempt were educated and came from middle class or wealthy families.
The officials told us that we must work to resolve the conflict between the Israelis and the Palestinians and that a lasting peace will help subdue tensions and allow governments and moderate Muslims to stand up and lead. In addition, they suggested a global interfaith dialogue must occur. They stated their desire to play a leadership role given Morocco's history in hosting the three great religions.
The Foreign Minister highlighted Morocco's efforts to engage the youth with opportunities and positive messages and that their brand of Islam is open, inclusive and tolerant and is a good model for the broader Muslim world.
We departed Rabat early on January 7th to return to Andrews Air Force Base by midday EST.
TRIBUTE TO MR. KENNY EVANS