TRANSCRIPT: Interview with First Lady

And I think that's encouraging as we go up to this week's donors conference in Paris, and that is to continue this support from all around the world for Afghanistan. One of the things you and I both saw was how poor Afghanistan is and how complete, really, the destruction of 30 years of war and the last regime, the very brutal Taliban regime -- how difficult it is to build a country when you already have that much poverty, no infrastructure -- none of the things that any country that wants to thrive economically needs to build.

JONATHAN KARL: And you said that the rest of the world, the international community needs to do more.

MRS. BUSH: Well, I mean, I hope they will at least sustain their commitment at this donors conference. There was a donors conference a couple of years ago -- there was, I think, very good commitment on the part of the international community, and this is just a way for the international community to assure Afghanistan that they'll stay with them, with all of these big projects that are going to take a long time to do.

JONATHAN KARL: And this is -- and you made reference -- this is a long-term project.

MRS. BUSH: It's a long-term. You can tell that from seeing it. None of these things are easy. None of the big, big infrastructure items like highways or hydroelectric power or electricity to parts of the country that have never had electricity. Plus you have this country that's mountainous, many, many very remote villages, very, very cold winters, when it makes it almost impossible because there are no roads to get into a lot of these remote mountainous villages. And if they should suffer this year, like we're afraid several parts of the world will with the food crisis, then it'll be very difficult to even get food to those rural parts of Afghanistan.

JONATHAN KARL: If you were to -- you know, looking out in the future -- obviously Yogi Berra said predictions are difficult, especially about the future. But, I mean, a long-term commitment to Afghanistan is clearly necessary -- you suggested it. How many years do you think the United States is going to be there on the ground involved in a significant way in Afghanistan?

MRS. BUSH: Well, I think people -- I think the United States will be very involved, not with troops necessarily, I hope -- I mean, I hope the Taliban is routed and that the people of Afghanistan, as they build their own police force and own army, which they're in the midst of doing -- we saw those women, police women recruits when we were there, which is very encouraging -- but I hope that we'll stay involved with these humanitarian commitments.

And we've done that in other parts of the world over our history, and I hope we'll do that here because it will take a long time because they're not only building the infrastructure, physical infrastructure, but they have to build a civil society infrastructure -- but written a constitution. I mean, that's really incredible that they've written a constitution. They have a democratically elected government, and now they need to continue to build that infrastructure of laws, of business law and contract law and civil society so they can attract capital from around the world and be able to build finally a driving economy -- and the schools that they want.

And they're desperate for education, and that was the message I got from all those young people I met who are either in college there or still in high school.

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