WASHINGTON, Aug. 6 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The following is a transcript of remarks by President Bush and President Karzai of Afghanistan in press availability:
11:17 A.M. EDT
PRESIDENT BUSH: Good morning. Thank you; be seated. Welcome.
I appreciate a man I've come to admire, President Karzai , for joining us. Laura and I had the honor of hosting the President for dinner last night. He and I spent a lot of this morning just sitting down alone talking about our common interests, common concerns. President Karzai is an optimistic man. He's watched his country emerge from days of darkness to days of hope.
PRESIDENT KARZAI: Absolutely.
PRESIDENT BUSH: I appreciate your stewardship. I appreciate your commitment to empowering your people. I appreciate your strong stance for freedom and justice, and I'm proud to call you an ally in this war against those who would wreak havoc in order to deny people a chance to live in peace.
We're working closely together to help the people of Afghanistan prosper. We work together to give the people of Afghanistan a chance to raise their children in a hopeful world. And we're working together to defeat those who would try to stop the advance of a free Afghan society.
We spent a fair amount of time talking about our security strategy. You might remember it was last winter that people were speculating about the Taliban spring offensive, and about how the Taliban had regrouped and were going to go on the attack inside Afghanistan . There was a spring offensive, all right -- it was conducted by U.S., NATO and, equally importantly, Afghan troops. And we went on the offense because we understand that it is in our mutual interests to deny extremists the opportunity to derail this young democracy.
There is still a fight going on, but I'm proud to report to the American people that the Afghan army is in the fight. The government is in the fight and the army is in the fight. Afghan national security forces are increasing in strength; there's about 110,000 Afghans now defending their nation. And more Afghans are stepping up to serve and it's in the interest of the United States to help you develop that national army and local police that will send a clear message to the people of Afghanistan that the governments can help provide an opportunity for children to raise their children in a peaceful world.
There are a lot of forces there in Afghanistan supporting this government, and our 23,500 troops are proud to stand side by side with 26,000 troops from other nations. And we applaud those countries who have committed their troops to help Afghanistan succeed. We've committed more than
I remember talking a lot about how the Taliban prevented young girls from going to school in Afghanistan . American citizens recoil with horror to think about a government that would deny a young child the opportunity to have the basics necessary to succeed in life. Today there are nearly 5 million students going to school in Afghanistan , a third of who are girls. Still work to be done, don't get me wrong, but progress is being made, Mr. President , and we're proud of you, proud of the work you're doing.
We talked about the need to stem the narcotics trade. I'm sure the President will comment on this. He understands that it's very important for farmers to be incented to grow crops other than poppy, and that he knows full well the United States is watching, measuring and trying to help eradicate poppy cultivation. We spent more than a fair amount of time on it; we spent a lot of time on it. And it's important that we get this right. Mr. President , I appreciate your commitment to not only dealing with the poppy growers and the poppy crop, but also dealing with corruption. It's very important that our societies emerge in such a way that the people have confidence in the capacity of government to conduct the affairs -- conduct their affairs in a way that's above board and honest and transparent.