Press Release

May 7, 2009

Washington, DC – U.S. Senator Benjamin L. Cardin, Chairman of the U.S. Helsinki Commission and a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee (SFRC), released the following statement today after he and other members of the SFRC met with Afghan President Hamid Karzai and Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari.

“Today’s discussions reinforced the many positive signs that the Afghan and Pakistani governments are prepared to work with the United States in the fight against extremists that threaten Pakistan and Afghanistan, and, indeed, threaten us all. I was encouraged to see the leaders of both of these countries together in Washington for their meetings with the Congress and President Obama. This partnership is essential to successfully disrupting and defeating terrorist elements that respect no borders when choosing a target or a safe haven.

“We stand at a moment of historic opportunity for progress that reflects the commitment of President Karzai and President Zardari to advance measures that enhance the security and stability for their own citizens and the entire region.  When I was in Islamabad last year and met with their leadership, we concurred on the need to confront terror and tyranny together and work to ensure peace and prosperity for our own people and the citizens of the world. I witnessed the same commitment from President Zardari and President Karzai today.

“Afghanistan is a Partner for Cooperation of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), the 56-nation regional security organization that includes the United States, Canada and the countries of Europe and Central Asia, including Afghanistan’s three northern neighbors. As it did in 2004 and 2005, the OSCE will send an election support team to Afghanistan for the country’s upcoming presidential and provincial council elections.  The OSCE is also considering potential projects with its Afghan partner to enhance border security and management, police training and anti-drug trafficking efforts.  I support these initiatives and, in my view, it would be a very positive development going forward if Pakistan became an OSCE Partner for Cooperation.  I intend to explore this issue in greater depth during my Chairmanship of the U.S. Helsinki Commission”

The Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe, also known as the U.S. Helsinki Commission, is an independent agency of the Federal Government charged with monitoring compliance with the Helsinki Accords and advancing comprehensive security through promotion of human rights, democracy, and economic, environmental and military cooperation in 56 countries. The Commission consists of nine members from the U.S. Senate, nine from the House of Representatives, and one member each from the Departments of State, Defense, and Commerce.