ISAF Spokesperson Speaking Notes Joint ISAF/CFC-A Press Conference

05 May 2004

Minister Hikmet Cetin, NATO's Senior Civilian Representative to Afghanistan, and Lieutenant-General Rick Hillier, Commander of ISAF, join President Hamid Karzai in welcoming the recent decision by senior members of Hezb-i-Islami to reject terrorism and violence and to embrace the peace process. While this is a positive step toward reconciliation, ultimately the group's actions will speak louder than their words. Also, as you know, other senior members of Hezb-i-Islami have not yet come to the same conclusions as the group that met with President Karzai on Sunday; thus there remains a need for vigilance in the face of the cautious optimism generated by this announcement. The nine points outlined by the "authoritative committee" of Hezb-i-Islami are a valuable step on the path toward strengthening of peace and stability in the country. As President Karzai stated, "This is a prudent and patriotic step they have taken." ISAF will continue to work toward ensuring a safe and secure environment conducive to free and fair elections and the spread of the rule of law; we welcome the Hezb-i-Islami "authoritative council's" recent commitment to this same goal.

Another successful contribution to safety and security was made this past weekend when ISAF troops destroyed a large weapons cache 35 km west of Kabul on Sunday afternoon. The munitions were discovered in a system of caves and included a total of over 650 artillery and mortar rounds and fuses. This temporary "out of area" operation was in keeping with ISAF's mandate to provide a safe and secure environment as the cache's proximity to Kabul suggested the city was the likely target for the munitions.

In another example of the rapidly expanding capability of the Afghan security agencies, the National Directorate for Security conducted a successful cordon and search operation early on Monday morning in which they detained seven people and seized an improvised explosive device. ISAF's support was ultimately not required for this operation; therefore, I have no further details. For more information, I suggest you contact the NDS directly.

Lastly, I would like to invite you all on Friday 7th May 2004, at 10 a.m., at Aimany school to see the Canadian military engineers who will complete the third and final phase of the school rebuilding. Related media advisory will be sent out later today. (You are kindly requested to meet the Canadian Battalion Group's Public Information Officer at Aimany school at 9:45 a.m.)

I will now turn the microphone over to LTC Tucker Mansager of Combined Forces Command - Afghanistan.