On behalf of President Obama and the United States, I send best wishes to the people and government of Afghanistan as you celebrate your Independence Day on August 19.
My recent travels to Kabul in support of your elections this year underscore both the importance of our long-standing partnership and the significance of the upcoming transition.
With millions of Afghans across your great nation braving violence and intimidation to cast their ballots, it is critical that all parties honor those voters' aspiration for a democratic, peaceful transfer of power that unifies the country. We will continue to strongly support the democratic process and the agreement reached between the two candidates concerning the formation of a national unity government.
The Afghan people deserve nothing less.
This year also brings the end of the U.S. and coalition combat mission, but our security partnership will endure.
We plan to continue our strong support for the ANSF, including through the train, advise, and assist mission that will follow the conclusion of the ISAF mission. The Afghan people should be proud of the security forces who have ably taken full responsibility for securing the country, including during two rounds of voting.
As envisaged in the Strategic Partnership Agreement between Afghanistan and the United States, our relationship is not only about security cooperation, but also about building on our shared democratic values, strengthening regional ties and on working together to ensure that Afghanistan reaches its full economic potential.
I look forward to close cooperation with Afghanistan's next government to further broaden and deepen our bilateral friendship as we work together on these challenges.
On this day of celebration, I'm reminded of the inspiring Afghans I've met during my visits to your country.
I'm reminded of the women entrepreneurs I met in Kabul overcoming gender discrimination in the marketplace. I'm reminded of the democracy activist in Kandahar who vowed to monitor elections in the name of transparency. And I'm reminded of the police officer patrolling your streets, making real the promise of safety and stability.
These brave men and women are working to ensure that all Afghans benefit from peace, freedom, and human dignity.
With a timely resolution of the election and the signing of a Bilateral Security Agreement, I am confident that the next year will open an important new era in U.S.-Afghan relations.
As Afghans stand up, we will stand with you, and the American people look forward to many more years of friendship and partnership with the inspiring people of Afghanistan.