Statement by Assistant to the President for Press Relations Fitzwater on the President's Meeting With Representatives of the Afghan Resistance Alliance

 

November 9, 1988

 

The President met this afternoon with representatives of the Afghan Resistance Alliance: Professor Burhanuddin Rabbani, who is the current spokesman for the Alliance, and his colleagues. The meeting came a day after the American people have freely decided who will govern our country. This is the same right for which the valiant Afghan freedom fighters have been struggling over the past 9 years.

 

History records the efforts of many different nations and empires to subjugate the Afghans. In the end, none has succeeded. So it is today that we see this valiant nation struggling for its freedom, which is now closer than any time in the past decade.

 

We are disappointed by recent Soviet statements indicating that Soviet troop withdrawal has been suspended. We expect the Soviet Union to honor its pledge to withdraw all of its troops from Afghanistan by February 15, 1989. Meanwhile, the Soviets' launching of extensive bombing raids against the Mujahidin, using their latest high performance aircraft and long-range missiles for the first time in this war, call into question Moscow's commitment not to launch offensive operations in Afghanistan. We find these developments disturbing. Moreover, they are futile. These steps will not intimidate either the freedom fighters or their Pakistani friends, who have our unshakable support in the face of continued Soviet pressure.

 

The fight of the Afghan people to regain and to preserve their freedom has provided a lesson for free people around the world. The commitment of the American Government and people to the Afghan people's cause is not new, and it will not waver. It will continue so long as the Afghan people require it to regain their freedom.