Markey joins Speaker Pelosi on congressional delegation to Afghanistan and Italy

Washington, DC – Representative Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) today issued the following statement after visiting troops in Afghanistan over the weekend. Markey visited Afghanistan after taking part in a congressional delegation to Italy led by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

“I am grateful for the sacrifice and dedication of all of our brave men and women serving in Afghanistan,” said Rep. Markey. “I am honored to witness firsthand, their commitment, valor and sacrifice in the name of America's security.”

“I saw many encouraging signs on the trip. However, inside Pakistan, a truce declared between the government and a Taliban group inside the Swat Valley is totally unacceptable. This truce represents a capitulation by the Pakistani government and a refusal to provide basic security to the people of the Swat Valley. We have to acknowledge that the security situation in Pakistan is critical in order to succeed in Afghanistan, and we need a strategy that reflects that reality.”

During the visit to Afghanistan, Markey and the delegation met with U.S. Forces at Camp Eggers in Kabul and were briefed by U.S. Ambassador William Wood, and U.S. and Allied military commanders.

The delegation also met with Afghan President Hamid Karzai to discuss the political and security situation in Afghanistan.

Before traveling to Afghanistan, the delegation met with senior officials of the Italian government, as well as U.S. and NATO military leaders in Italy, where they discussed the global economic crisis, joint efforts to defeat terrorist networks, and efforts to curb global warming.

In Italy, Rep. Markey participated in a climate change roundtable at the Center for American Studies, discussing the path towards the next round of climate negotiations in Copenhagen, Denmark this December.  The delegation met with Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini, and other senior Italian government officials to discuss each nation’s efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

“Climate change is a global problem that will require a global solution,”
said Rep. Markey, who chairs key committees in Congress responsible for developing climate change legislation. “We must enact comprehensive cap and trade legislation here at home and work to re-engage with the rest of the world on this issue.”

The delegation was also briefed by U.S. Admiral Mark Fitzgerald, Commander of U.S. Naval Forces Europe and Africa, and Commander of Allied Joint Force Command Naples.  Admiral Fitzgerald and his NATO staff provided information on NATO activities in the Balkans, the ongoing training of Iraqi Security Forces, and operations against pirates off the coast of Somalia. 
After a meeting with American sailors assigned to U.S. Naval Forces Europe and Africa, Rep. Markey and the delegation discussed with Admiral Fitzgerald Navy operations in Africa as part of the establishment of Africa Command, and the growing security threat posed by climate change.

Earlier in the week, the delegation visited Aviano Air Base in Italy where they were briefed on the strategic mission of the base, the roles of units assigned to the base, and the close cooperation between U.S. and Italian personnel, which is essential to the success of the base. The delegation also visited Florence American Cemetery on the outskirts of Florence to pay their respects to the more than 4,400 American World War II soldiers buried there.

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February 23, 2009

  CONTACT: Daniel Reilly 202-225-2836