Release: Sanders Returns from Pakistan, Afghanistan

WASHINGTON, Feb. 22 – Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) returned today from a fact-finding tour of Pakistan and Afghanistan. He was accompanied by Sens. Bob Corker, R-Tenn.; Chris Coons, D-Del.; and Joe Manchin, D-W.Va.

In Pakistan, the delegation met with President Asif Ali Zardari, Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani and Gen. Ashfq Parvez Kayani, the military leader.

In Afghanistan, the delegation met with President Hamid Karzai, Gen. David H. Petraeus, the commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, and other military officials. The delegation visited the capital city of Kabul, Bagram Air Force Base, and a village in the Garmsir District, an area in Helmand Province which as recently as two years ago was controlled by the Taliban.

Over dinner at the Bagram air base, Sanders also met with Air Force Maj. Douglass MacPherson or Burlington, Vt. (For a picture click here.)

“The American presence in Afghanistan, including the efforts of the Vermont National Guard, has had a significant impact in improving the capabilities of the Afghan military and police in protecting their people and combating the Taliban,” Sanders said.

“However, in the tenth year of war there, the loss of 1,464 U.S. troops and the expenditure of more than $330 billion, Congress needs to accelerate efforts with the administration to develop a clear exit strategy for American troops and to significantly reduce expenditures there,” he added.