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Congressman McNerney in Afghanistan, meets with President Karzai

Describes streets of Kabul as crowded with 'bustling marketplaces'

Congressman Jerry McNerney (D-Pleasanton) is in Afghanistan meeting with President Karzai and military leaders.

The Congressman was asked to travel to the war-torn country to assess the situation on the ground first hand.

He sent the following report to the Pleasanton Weekly:

I'm writing to you from Kabul, Afghanistan where I've traveled as part of a bipartisan congressional delegation. I've come here to see for myself the current state of affairs in Afghanistan, ask questions of our military leaders and the Afghan government and spend time with our men and women in uniform.

It's now the end of a whirlwind day of activity, and I'm glad to have a moment to reflect on my experiences and share my thoughts with you.

When I landed in Kabul today the weather was hazy and cool. We left the airport and traveled through Kabul and points near the city where we saw a number of Afghan civilians along the roads and in crowded and bustling marketplaces. The majority of the people on the streets of Kabul were men, but there were women out in the city as well and some were not dressed in full burkas, a change from rule under the Taliban. With so much conflict throughout the country and region, it was heartening to see day-to-day activity continuing and an active local economy.

Shortly after we arrived, we went to meet with President Karzai. The offices of the president were modest and the congressional delegation was joined by senior advisers to the Afghan government as well as other presidential staff. The visit was an opportunity for the congressional delegation to question him about the country's political and economic situation.

Karzai laid out the challenges in Afghanistan as he viewed them, and we had an opportunity to discuss a wide range of issues. I pressed him directly about his commitment to ending corruption, which I consider essential to both America's military support for his country, and for the ultimate success of democracy in Afghanistan. Karzai acknowledged that serious problems still exist and more needs to be done to address the situation.

After our meeting, I visited with soldiers stationed here, including several Californians. They told me about their families, and I could tell how much they miss everyone back home. They are very proud to be serving their country and showed a lot of enthusiasm for their work. I shared with them how much we appreciate their sacrifice.

Over the next days, I'll continue on with the congressional delegation's travel to other parts of the country and discussions with our senior military leaders on the president's proposal for our involvement in the region.

We have many difficult decisions ahead about sending additional troops to Afghanistan. I'm grateful for the opportunity to see firsthand the situation and use what I've learned here to make informed decisions in the coming months.

I hope to see many of you soon after my return home and look forward to sharing more about my trip.

(If you'd like to share your thoughts with the Congressman, email him directly at Jerry@JerryMcNerney.org)

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