Washington, DC - Secretary of State John Kerry: "On behalf of President Obama and the American people, I extend our congratulations and best wishes to the government and people of Afghanistan on the occasion of Afghanistan’s 97th anniversary of independence on August 19.
"Despite the many challenges Afghanistan has faced and the many sacrifices endured, there is much to celebrate today. The Afghan people have made tremendous strides over the last 15 years, including significant improvements in education, health, infrastructure, women’s rights, economic opportunities, and media freedom.
"Afghanistan continues to make progress towards a more democratic and secure future. We stand with you as you honor your many achievements, and we salute your courage, your hard work and your commitment to build on them in the years ahead.
"Our commitment to the Afghan people is strong, and we look forward to strengthening the bonds of friendship between our nations."