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Hamid Karzai Speaks from Ground Zero in New York

Aired January 30, 2002 - 10:19   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
BILL HEMMER, CNN ANCHOR: Hamid Karzai at the microphone now at Ground Zero.

(JOINED IN PROGRESS)

MICHAEL BLOOMBERG (R), MAYOR OF NEW YORK: ... provided such strong leadership in Afghanistan and stood with, not just the United States, but our global coalition in defending freedom.

The fact that the chairman was at the State of the Union Address last night with President Bush where I had a chance to meet him, I think, shows the world that we are winning this war against terror and that good will triumph over evil.

This is the site of unspeakable evil, but from that evil, we've seen good arise not just here in New York but across the world. And certainly, Chairman Karzai, we're very proud of your leadership, your friendship and your strength along with the members of your ministries in helping us to win this war against terror and against evil.

So on behalf of the people of New York, I'm honored to welcome Chairman Karzai here to ground zero.

Chairman?

(APPLAUSE)

HAMID KARZAI, AFGHANISTAN'S INTERIM AUTHORITY CHAIRMAN: Ladies and gentlemen, I began a very happy trip to America. I was given tremendous hospitality, together with my colleagues. But to come here through the shadow of sorrow over the whole thing, it fills us with grief once again.

I remember seeing on television somebody that jumped out of the tower to certain death. That made me think, what could have been there inside that tower that makes that man jump out to certain death? He knew he was going to die.

The people that committed the crime here in New York, the people that committed crimes in Afghanistan against the Afghan people, they destroyed exactly the same way there as they did here. They were against life itself. They were against the essence of life, of being.

And our people, the Afghan people, they know the pain of the American people better than all other people because Afghan people have lost exactly in the same way -- exactly in the same way: They were killed; their buildings were destroyed in the most brutal manner. And the Afghans understand America's pain, and that's why it joined America. It received America with open arms to fight against terrorism and to liberate Afghanistan.

While the Afghans are, too, sad -- as sad as the Americans, they're grateful to the American people for making us win our war against terrorism, and we will continue to do that until we have finished them all and put them on trial.

I want the people of New York to see the faces of those people on trial, on TVs and to see that they receive justice. That we will do. That's a promise and we will deliver on that.

(APPLAUSE)

Thank you.

QUESTION: Mr. Chairman, is this what you expected to see? Or how would you describe what you saw here?

KARZAI: I have been to the Twin Towers before. I know how tall they were.

When I was coming from the U.N. just now, for a moment, you forget that it is not there. We were going to the Twin Towers, and I was looking to see them. I was expecting to see them standing. That is a very sad thought of it.

And I asked Ambassador (INAUDIBLE) I said, "Where are we going?" I wanted to reach it because I did not realize that the tower is not there anymore. So it keeps coming sudden and sudden to you that -- it's as horrific as the destruction of Buddha in Afghanistan. It's the destruction of life itself, of people.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE)

KARZAI: President Bush, the day before yesterday, offered to help train Afghan military, Afghan national army. That is what we need more, to have our own institutions, to stand back on our own feet and to rebuild Afghanistan that way.

I think that the offer that the U.S. president made the day before yesterday is the best thing that he could have made to Afghanistan, and we're glad for that.

Yes, with America's help, we will better our country. And we are asking for that.

Thank you.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE)

KARZAI: I have interest in promoting the right of self- determination of the Afghani people. That is my interest. And if they have that right to select their leaders and if, through that right, they choose me, I'll by honored. If they don't, I'll be happy, too.

It's basically the right of the Afghan people to determine their leadership that's important; not me.

BLOOMBERG: Chairman, if I might again thank you for coming here and for your strong expression of support and for your understanding of the evil that was done here.

We are confident that with the strength of the United States and the partnership of you and your government, justice will be brought to your evil criminals and good will triumph over evil.

And now, on behalf of the Afghan families and the American families, place this wreath here on this wall where so many family members have express their sense of loss of their loved ones.

Thank you.

KARZAI: When we were preparing to write something for the flowers to be laid here in memory of those lost, I said, "Let's write something on behalf of families -- to families." It's really the loss of families, homes here, and we understand that. And I've come here to bring you these flowers from Afghan families to American families. We have that sharing of pain with you -- a lot of it, it's from here.

Thank you.

HEMMER: An enormous challenge ahead of him for his country, Afghanistan. Curious to wonder what Hamid Karzai was thinking last night during the State of the Union Address. There could be no more marked contrast between the two countries, the U.S. and Afghanistan in its current state, when he hears about child tax credits, and prescription drugs for seniors, and student-teacher ratios in American schools. Afghans are lucky to have schools, at this point, given the state of their country that's been so wracked by war for the better part of 23 years.

Hamid Karzai is visiting ground zero, and his dedication and words in lower Manhattan.

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