Joint Press Conference with Afghanistan,s Foreign Minister Dr AbdullahDR ABDULLAH ABDULLAH
: Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen.
MINISTER ALEXANDER DOWNER: Well can I just say it,s a great pleasure for me yet again to welcome Dr Abdullah
here to Australia.
We look forward, during the course of the day, to hearing from Dr Abdullah
about the situation in Afghanistan
, and I just think it,s been a great thing for Afghanistan
though, the advent of democracy, and freedom for all the people of Afghanistan
, and , there are some people who want to destroy that freedom, they,re only a minority of people, and we should never let the opponents of freedom destroy freedom.
QUESTION: Dr Abdullah
, now that Australia is sending troops back to Afghanistan
, would you welcome a visit from the Australian
Prime Minister?DR ABDULLAH: Of course that,s, there is an open invitation by President Karzai for the Prime Minister to visit Afghanistan, and from myself to Minister, in a convenient time, of course, for the Prime Minister, as well as the Foreign Minister, and in other occasions I will have the privilege to have meetings as ministerial [indistinct], as well as the Prime Minister have, had talked to the President on several occasions at an international level.
So, I mean, there are, Dr Abdullah
can talk about this in more detail than me, but provincial reconstruction teams have a whole series of different formations, and working out the optimal formation for us, that,s not been done yet.But, yeah, our inclination is to send a provincial reconstruction team.
QUESTION: How important would it be for your, Dr Abdullah
, to see that reconstruction team?How much does Afghanistan need that team in the country?DR ABDULLAH
: Of course it is a desire from the Afghan Government, as well as the Afghan nation, and I should say that the role of the provincial reconstruction teams has been a very successful positive one, and they are in different parts of the country, and depending on the location or the environment of the job, the kinds of missions that they are carrying out differs, and we focus mainly on the training of our security forces, as well as contributing to the security, in some reconstruction work, some are doing mainly, focussing mainly on the reconstruction job and developmental job, helping in the rural development and [indistinct] lives of the people in different parts of the country.So, it has been a successful exercise, and we welcome it very much.So, we are very pleased to see that Australia is considering it favourably, and we are looking forward to that.
QUESTION: Can I ask both of you how your , how difficult you expect the election will be, and particularly Dr Abdullah
some of the criticism that has been made of how the election is being formed.I refer you specifically to the international crisis group which said that criticised President Karzai for rather than empowering political parties, the President,s hostility has actually added to the difficulties of getting parties into the elections.Could I ask you your view of that?DR ABDULLAH: The President himself, he is , he had not accepted to lead a political party, that,s his, perfectly in his right.
But I wouldn,t say that he
opposed the formation of political parties or development of political parties.Far from it.
: I wouldn,t specify where Australian forces will be needed.
: The fact that this decision was made by Australian Government [indistinct], so it came with great , it was welcomed with great satisfaction by the Afghani Government.Australia has contributed in [indistinct] sense and different aspects of the process in Afghanistan
.I would say that the commitment of the international community would continue, the commitment of Australia will continue to support Afghanistan
but what is the timing, what is , what shape it will take, it depends on the circumstances and on the decisions here.
QUESTION: [Indistinct] candidates for the elections are reluctant to come out and actually campaign for fear of the Taliban.Do you think that could have an effect on a truly democratic election?DR ABDULLAH
: I wouldn,t say that there wasn,t any incident as such, but there are 6,000 candidates and I am sure that full majority of them will go.
: I think the , well let,s wait and see the composition of the parliament.