WASHINGTON – More money and security are coming Afghanistan's way.
President Bush welcomed Afghanistan's interim Prime Minister Hamid Karzai to the White House Monday, promising to focus on rebuilding the country and shoring up Afghanistan’s security as well as providing support for peacekeeping forces.
"We will also support programs to train new police officers and to help establish and train an Afghanistan national military," Bush said in a Rose Garden news conference.
The president pledged a $50 million line of credit through the U.S. Overseas Private Investment Corporation. This is in addition to the $297 million in aid pledged by the United States to Afghanistan during the reconstruction conference in Tokyo last week.
In exchange, Karzai promised to use the military to defend Afghanistan's borders from terrorists who would use it as a staging ground to attack other nations.
"I assure you, Mr. President, that Afghanistan, with your help, and the help of other countries, will be strong and will eventually stand on its own feet," Karzai said. "It will be a country that will defend its borders and not allow terrorism to return to it or bother it or trouble it. We'll be self-reliant. We'll do good in business. We'll be a strong country."
He thanked the United States for helping to "liberate" the country from the terror of the Taliban, adding that Afghans are deeply sad about the Sept. 11 tragedy, especially since they are so familiar with terror.
"I believe the Afghans are the best people to see the pain exactly the way it was felt there, then, at that time, because the Afghans have suffered exactly in the same way," he said. "We have sympathy. We know that pain. We understand it."
Earlier in the day, Karzai said he wants U.S. troops to participate in the multinational peacekeeping force in his nation, and that most Afghans would like to see the security forces expand outside the capital of Kabul.
"The people I've met over the past month, ... almost all of them have asked me to ask the international security forces to go to the other parts of the country," Karzai said.
"If we need them at any time to be there in the rest of the country, we will ask for it," he said. "If the United States can be there as part of that multinational force, it's welcome."
But Bush said that he is offering Afghanistan something better than peacekeepers, and even better than logistical help: intelligence and back-up forces to bail out Afghan troops if they get in trouble.
"We're going to help Afghanistan develop her own military," Bush said. "That is the most important part of this visit, besides welcoming a man that represents freedom."
U.S. forces will remain in Afghanistan for the time being, and the White House said it would consult with Karzai's government before pulling any troops out.
Karzai, the first Afghan prime minister to come to the United States in 39 years, arrived Sunday afternoon.
Before his arrival, he told Afghan television that Afghan officials believe that peacekeeping troops are needed in the countryside to deal with regional warlords and armed gangs.
In the United States, Karzai is scheduled to meet with Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and Secretary of State Colin Powell. He will also appear as a guest of honor during the president's State of the Union address Tuesday night.
On Sunday, he spoke to thousands of Afghan-Americans assembled at Georgetown University and said as long as Afghanistan is poverty-stricken, the rule of law with follow Islamic dictates, including cutting off the hands of thieves.
Meanwhile, the status of the Afghan fighters being held at the U.S. base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, was the subject of a meeting of Bush's top national security advisors Monday.
Some human rights groups and European governments say the detainees should be treated as "prisoners of war," subject to the Geneva Convention, an international agreement on how prisoners should be treated when in custody of the enemy.
Geneva Convention provisions calls for prisoners to be released at the end of the conflict and protects them from interrogation, among other rights.
Bush said Monday that the Geneva Convention has a value in terms of the conduct of international wars, but the terrorists will be treated as "illegal combatants".
"The only thing they know about countries is when they find a country that's been weak they want to occupy it like a parasite."
Fox News' Wendell Goler and the Associated Press contributed to this report.