Kabul, Afghanistan - Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi led a bipartisan Delegation to Afghanistan, the first delegation to enter the country since President Barack Obama and President Hamid Karzai signed the historic Strategic Partnership Agreement. The two-day visit, which included visits to Helmand and Kandahar provinces, allowed the delegation to not only visit troops on Mother's Day weekend, but to also take part in important discussions with diplomatic and military officials, and the women of Afghanistan.
On Sunday, the delegation met with President Karzai to discuss regional security and stability issues, including reconciliation and reintegration efforts. The delegation also met with General John Allen, Commander of the International Security Assistance Force, Afghanistan and U.S. Forces and U.S. Ambassador Ryan Crocker on counterinsurgency operations and the transfer of security responsibilities to the Afghan people.
'Sunday marked the third phase of the transfer of lead security responsibility to the Afghan forces,' Leader Pelosi said. 'On every occasion, our delegation stressed the importance of Afghan women being involved in security decisions, especially in light of the upcoming NATO summits in Chicago and Tokyo.
'Recognizing the significant role that our troops play in Afghanistan, we were pleased on Mother's Day to travel to Helmand and Kandahar provinces to hear directly from regional commanders on the ground and their coalition partners in the most critical areas in Afghanistan,' Pelosi continued. 'Our delegation was also honored to participate in a celebration in honor of Mother's Day at Camp Leatherneck in Helmand province with many mothers serving in our Armed Forces.'
On Saturday, the Members participated in several briefings at the U.S. Embassy Kabul including briefings on the rule of law, status of USAID efforts and women's issues in Afghanistan. The delegation also participated in the closing session of the International Joint Command's Female Engagement Team (FET) conference, which brought female Afghan parliamentarians and civic leaders from all over Afghanistan together with international security force leaders. With the Afghan women and FET members, the delegation discussed increasing the role of women in governance, security, business development and education.
In addition to Leader Pelosi, the Members of the bipartisan Delegation are:
• Congresswoman Jean Schmidt (R-OH)
• Congresswoman Anna Eshoo (D-CA)
• Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney (D-NY)
• Congresswoman Terri Sewell (D-AL)