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Public Papers - 1989 - February

Statement on the Soviet Withdrawal From Afghanistan

1989-02-16

Today marks the start of a new chapter in the history of Afghanistan. For the first time in over 9 years, Soviet forces no longer occupy that country. This development marks an extraordinary triumph of spirit and will by the Afghan people, and we salute them for it.

Much remains to be done, however. For the Afghan people, the struggle for self-determination goes on. We support Afghan efforts to fashion a stable, broadly based government, responsive to the needs of the Afghan people. We call upon Afghan resistance leaders to work together towards this end. As long as the resistance struggle for self-determination continues, so too will America's support.

Throughout the long, dark years of Afghanistan's occupation, the international community has been steadfast in its support of the Afghan cause. This is also true for the United States. U.S. support for the Afghan people and the subsequent Soviet military withdrawal from Afghanistan constitute a powerful example of what we Americans can accomplish when Executive and Congress, Republican and Democrat, stand together. The Government and people of Pakistan also can take particular satisfaction from this event; their courage and solidarity contributed significantly to the Afghan struggle.

Now, more than ever, the Afghan people deserve the continuing help of the international community as they begin the difficult process of reclaiming their country, resettling their people, and restoring their livelihood. The commitment of the United States to the Afghan people will remain firm, both through our bilateral humanitarian aid program and through United Nations efforts to remove mines, resettle refugees, and reconstruct Afghanistan's war-torn economy. We call upon other nations to contribute all they can and hope that the United Nations and the resistance can come to mutually acceptable arrangements for the nationwide distribution of needed food supplies.

The Soviet Union has now fulfilled its obligation to withdraw from Afghanistan. We welcome that decision. We call upon the Soviet Union to refrain from other forms of interference in Afghan affairs. The Soviet Union has nothing to fear from the establishment of an independent, nonaligned Afghanistan. At the same time, the U.S.S.R. bears special responsibility for healing the wounds of this war, and we call upon it to support generously international efforts to rebuild Afghanistan.

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