Afghan President Hamid Karzai today thanked President Obama for his “taxpayers’ money” in helping build a post-Taliban Afghanistan.
Obama and Karzai spoke to reporters after a bilateral meeting in Chicago today. “I just want to stress my appreciation for the hard work that President Karzai has done,” Obama said. “I think he recognizes the enormous sacrifices that have been made by the American people and, most profoundly, by American troops, as well as the troops of our other coalition partners.”
He said the summit will focus on implementing the transition there effectively.
Karzai said a timely withdrawal of international forces will ensure “Afghanistan is no longer a burden on the shoulder of our friends in the international community, on the shoulders of the United States and our other allies.”
“Afghanistan will be working further for institution building and the development of sounder governance in the country and a better economy, where the Afghans will be taking steady steps towards self-reliance in all aspects of life, that Afghanistan will be collecting its own revenues,” he added.
Karzai said his country is fully aware of the challenges ahead.
“I’m bringing to you and to the people of the United States the gratitude of the Afghan people for the support that your taxpayers’ money has provided us over the past decade, and for the difference that it has made to the well-being of the Afghan people — to our education and health and the building of the Afghan government,” he said.
A Democratic amendment to the defense authorization passed the House by voice vote on Thursday that would post per-taxpayer war costs online. Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.), who advocates spending on domestic programs instead of defense, wants the Defense Department, IRS and Commerce Department to jointly calculate the cost to each taxpayer of combat operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. About $530 billion has been spent thus far in Afghanistan.
Obama will be in NATO summit meetings Monday before leaving for Missouri to give to the commencement address at Joplin High School.