Peace Corps Director to Meet With Foreign Leaders, Vasquez Goes to Afghanistan, Pakistan, China and Peru

March 3, 2002

WASHINGTON, March 3, 2002—Peace Corps Director Gaddi Vasquez left on his first trip representing the agency today to meet with government officials in Pakistan, Afghanistan, China and Peru. In Afghanistan, Vasquez is meeting with Peace Corps officials who are conducting programming and security assessments to determine if conditions in the countries will support sending in the agency’s Crisis Corps volunteers. In Pakistan, Vasquez will also meet with government representatives and will discuss the possible re-opening of Peace Corps programs there.

Peace Corps’ assessment is underway following an announcement made during President Bush’s State of the Union Address that Peace Corps will seek to reopen the program in Afghanistan, where volunteers were active from 1962 to 1976, and Pakistan, where there was an active program from 1961-1967 and 1988-1991. The President also announced his desire to double the number of Peace Corps volunteers over the next five years with a request to increase participation in Muslim countries.

Vasquez will meet with Afghanistan and U.S. Embassy officials as well as Peace Corps assessment team members. In Pakistan, he will meet with government representatives and embassy officials.

In China, meetings with officials there will follow the President’s recent trip and are intended to determine the probability of expanding Peace Corps’ program. Approximately 80 volunteers have been in China since 1993.

Vasquez is expected to join Peru’s President Alejandro Toledo and President Bush in Peru for the March 23 signing of a bilateral agreement between the two countries, which will allow Peace Corps volunteers to return to Peru for the first time in more than 25 years. It is anticipated that 150 volunteers could be sent in the first 12-15 months.

Crisis Corps volunteers are poised to enter Afghanistan if the current assessment is supportive. Crisis Corps volunteers are returned volunteers or experienced volunteers who have completed two years of service who provide short-term assistance in disaster relief and humanitarian response. More than 455 Crisis Corps volunteers have served in 30 countries in Latin America, Africa, the Pacific, Asia and Eastern Europe.

For more information, contact the Peace Corps' toll free recruitment line at 1-800-424-8580, or visit www.peacecorps.gov.

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