Hultgren Reports On Congressional Delegation Visit to Afghanistan, Germany, IsraelFriday May 20, 2011
Geneva, IL – U.S. Rep. Randy Hultgren (IL-14) returned recently from a Congressional Delegation (CODEL) visit to Israel, Afghanistan and Germany, calling the trip a reaffirmation of the need to strengthen alliances and work for greater stability and accountability in the Middle East.
"I am pleased that I had the opportunity to join the Congressional Delegation on this trip to see first-hand our progress in Afghanistan," said Hultgren. "I was exceptionally impressed by the ability of our military and civilians there; their commitment to their mission and to the Afghan people is truly inspiring. I am convinced that progress has been made, but we must continue to work for stability in the region. Although Osama bin Laden is dead, terrorists and extremists continue to look for safe havens and Afghanistan cannot be permitted to serve that purpose again."
The purpose of the visit was to receive local and regional political, military, and economic updates and to focus on diplomatic efforts in Israel and U.S. Forces in Afghanistan, and Germany. Hultgren was joined by three other members of Congress on the trip. The delegation was led by Congressman Randy Forbes (VA-4), Chairman of the Readiness Subcommittee on the House Armed Services Committee.
“While in Afghanistan we met with civilian leaders, most notably U.S. Ambassador John Ikenberry and several Afghan Parliamentarians, as well as members of our military, including General Petraeus," said Hultgren. Hultgren and other members of Congress also met with Afghan military leaders and coalition members from Australia and Great Britain. "In our meetings, the Afghan leaders indicated to us that they are eager to work alongside coalition forces to ensure the safety and security of the country.
"The other long-term struggle for Afghanistan will be to identify how to grow its economy and move away from the cultivation of illicit crops, such as poppies. This presents a fantastic opportunity for the U.S. and international agriculture communities to step in to help Afghan farmers transition to a legitimate economy."
During a brief layover in Israel, Hultgren and delegation members met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
"It was an incredible honor to meet Prime Minister Netanyahu and discuss the challenges and concerns of Israel," said Hultgren. "Against the backdrop of the weekend’s unrest, it is clear that we must continue to strengthen our relationship and work closely with friends such as Israel, the most stable country in the Middle East. I look forward to continuing this dialogue with the Prime Minister next week during his visit to Washington, D.C."