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20 March 2002

Bush Sends Nowruz Greetings to Afghans









(Ancient new year holiday was forbidden by the Taliban) (380)





President George W. Bush sent warm greetings for a "memorable Nowruz"


to the Afghan people and Afghan-Americans March 20.





This year marks the first time in many years that Afghans will be


allowed to celebrate the traditional New Year's celebration, which was


forbidden under the Taliban regime.





"Afghanistan's observance of the traditional New Year honors an


ancient and storied history and marks a time of renewal," the


president said in a statement.





"As the season changes, may the observance of Nowruz serve as a


special time for Afghans to enjoy their new found freedom and the


company of family and friends," he said.





Bush said the United States would continue to help Afghanistan become


"a stable, prosperous, and free country." He pledged American support


to the country's effort "to protect itself from becoming a base for


international terrorism."





Following is the text of President Bush's Nowruz greetings to Afghans


and Afghan-Americans:





(begin text)





THE WHITE HOUSE Office of the Press Secretary March 20, 2002





STATEMENT BY THE PRESIDENT





I send warm greetings to Afghans and Afghan-Americans observing


Nowruz.





This year's observance occurs during a period of trial, when the


people of Afghanistan and the United States are joined in our


determination to make the world safe from terrorism. Afghans have


shown extraordinary courage in helping to rid their country of the


Taliban and al-Qaida. We will continue to help Afghanistan become a


stable, prosperous, and free country. And we will support Afghanistan


in its effort to protect itself from becoming a base for international


terrorism.





This Nowruz will be particularly special to millions of Afghans.


Throughout their history, Afghans have observed Nowruz. But the


Taliban had forbidden Afghans from following this treasured part of


their heritage. Next week, for the first time in many years, Afghans


will be free once more to celebrate this time-honored tradition.





Afghanistan's observance of the traditional New Year honors an ancient


and storied history and marks a time of renewal. As the season


changes, may the observance of Nowruz serve as a special time for


Afghans to enjoy their new found freedom and the company of family and


friends.





Best wishes for a memorable Nowruz.





(end text)













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