WASHINGTION: US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Monday that she will visit Tokyo next month to take part in a conference aimed at ensuring social progress in Afghanistan after foreign troops leave.
Clinton said she will attend the meeting — which Japan has announced for July 8 — and expected it would look at ways to improve governance, economic prospects, health and education in Afghanistan.
“We are prepared — so long as the government and the people of Afghanistan wish to have our help — not only to help on security, but also to continue to help on development,” Clinton said at Wellesley College in Massachusetts.
Clinton, who graduated in 1969 as class president from the prestigious all-women’s college, was returning to inaugurate a new “Women in Public Service Institute” aimed at boosting female leadership around the world.
The United States plans to withdraw troops from Afghanistan by the end of 2014 as the public grows tired of more than a decade of war and policymakers question whether a victory on the battlefield is possible.
Clinton said Afghanistan’s women had made demonstrable gains since the 2001 invasion toppled the Taliban regime, which severely restricted women’s rights.
“When people say, ‘Well, what have we gotten done in Afghanistan over the last 10 years?’, I think it’s only fair to look at the changes that have happened in terms of the millions of children — at least 40 percent of whom are now girls — in school,” she said.
“Much to everyone’s amazement, a country that had the worst rate of maternal mortality associated with childbirth — pregnancy, labor, childbirth — has made great improvements that have been applauded by the international public health community,” Clinton said.