THE PRESIDENT: I want to welcome President Karzai and his delegation. We have a lot of important business to do. And I very much appreciate the efforts that he's been taking in rebuilding Afghanistan and proceeding on the transition path that will ensure that the Afghans are ultimately responsible for their security and their prosperity.
We received some tragic news today that President Rabbani, who had been heading up the reconciliation process, was killed in a suicide attack. He was a man who cared deeply about Afghanistan and had been a valued advisor to President Karzai, and was a enormous contribution to rebuilding the country. So it is a tragic loss. We want to extend our heartfelt condolences to you and to his family, and the people of Afghanistan.
But, Mr. President, I think we both believe that despite this incident, we will not be deterred from creating a path whereby Afghans can live in freedom and safety and security and prosperity, and that it is going to be important to continue the efforts to bring all elements of Afghan society together to end what has been a senseless cycle of violence.
So we very much appreciate your presence here today. I know that you're going to have to leave after our meeting. But we want to give you an opportunity to speak to the press, as well.
PRESIDENT KARZAI: Thank you very much, Mr. President, for your message of condolence and support to myself and to the Afghan people on the very tragic loss and martyrdom of Professor Burhanuddin Rabbani, the chairman of the Afghan Peace Council, the former Afghan President, and Afghan patriot, who, as we see, has sacrificed his life for the sake of Afghanistan and for the peace of our country.
The mission that he had undertaken was vital, Mr. President, for the Afghan people and for the security of our country and for peace in our country. We will miss him very, very much. I don't think, Mr. President, that we can fill his place easily. He was one of the few people in Afghanistan with the distinction that we cannot easily find in societies. A terrible loss. But as you rightly say, this will not deter us from continuing on the path that we have, and we'll definitely succeed.
Thank you, Mr. President, for condemning this act of brutality and cowardice against President Rabbani. I will take that message from you to the Afghan people. This is a hard day for us in Afghanistan, but a day of unity and a day of continuity of our efforts.