30 June 2010
Security Council
SC/9970

Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Security Council

6351st Meeting (AM)


Key Political Aims on Track in Afghanistan, Despite Recent Spike in Attacks, Top


UN Envoy Tells Security Council, Issuing Call for Resilience in Coming Months


‘We Will Negotiate With Any Disenchanted Afghans Ready to Distance Themselves

From Al-Qaida and Participate in Peaceful, Stable Afghanistan’, Ambassador Says


Briefing the Security Council on the situation in Afghanistan today, the top United Nations envoy in that country stressed the importance of maintaining resilience in the year ahead, with events in the first half of 2010 — the consultative Peace Jirga, a follow-up conference in Kabul and progress on elections — providing reassurance that, despite the increased attacks by insurgents on civilians, major political aims were broadly on track.


Calling 2010 “a crucial year in and for Afghanistan”, Staffan de Mistura, Special Representative of the Secretary-General to the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), said that, in the wake of the Afghan-led consultative Peace Jirga in early June, there seemed to be an overall positive feeling among Afghans about the aim of “expanding the tent” and supporting an inclusive peace process.


According to Mr. de Mistura, many foreign ministers, as well as the United Nations Secretary-General were expected to attend the follow-up to the Jirga — a conference planned for 20 July in Kabul.  If the main objective of the Jirga had been to foster the Afghan people’s confidence in their Government, then the Kabul conference, to be chaired jointly by the United Nations and the Afghan Government, would be a place to seek a realignment of donor support with those national priorities, he said.


Afghanistan’s representative, who also addressed the Council today, said the Peace Jirga had recommended several steps towards an inclusive peace process, which the Government had already started to implement.  As part of that effort, it had begun to review detention records, with a view to releasing Taliban being held without adequate evidence, and it had requested that the Council extend the review process of the Consolidated List of individuals and entities associated with Al-Qaida and the Taliban, as it prepared to submit a preliminary de-listing request.


“We will begin negotiations with any disenchanted Afghans who are ready to distance themselves from Al-Qaida and to participate in a peaceful and stable Afghanistan,” he said.


He added that the Afghan National Army and police, now operating with increased operational capacity, were on schedule to reach their combined target size and strength.  In partnership with the international forces, they had started to take back control from the Taliban in some parts of the country.  However, while Afghans had great hope, they were disturbed about the ongoing debates among and between their international allies, and were concerned that sustainable progress might be difficult to achieve without long-term commitment.


Reporting on the Council’s visit to Kabul from 21 to 24 June, Turkey’s Permanent Representative, who had led the mission, stressed that Afghan ownership should be supported by the international community, and that the United Nations should be part of the process.  “The key work should be the Afghan leadership and Afghan responsibility in the period ahead,” he said, adding that Council members had encouraged the Afghan authorities to advance their efforts to uphold the rule of law, human rights, and women’s and children’s rights, and had stressed the importance of combating the narcotics industry and trade.


The United States representative, remarking on the Council’s trip to Kabul, noted that Afghan representatives and leaders had briefed the Council delegation on their efforts towards reconciliation and reintegration, and on efforts to pull insurgent commanders off the field.  They had asked for the removal of some names from the Consolidated List.


She said the Council was now reviewing the names on that List on a case-by-case basis to see whether their listing remained appropriate, and the United States Government was looking forward to receiving information from the Afghan Government on individuals for removal, which was vital and urgent to that process.


As they discussed those political developments, a majority of Council members also sounded their concern over the significant rise in insecurity, especially in what they described as complex suicide attacks and improvised explosive devices, which, some said, overshadowed the advances.  Many speakers condemned the attack yesterday on a United Nations vehicle that led to the death of one member of UNAMA personnel, calling for more attention on staff safety.  Particularly worrisome to many was the possibility that excessive security problems would tarnish the upcoming elections, which Mr. De Mistura had explained were being planned for September, following agreement by the executive and legislative branches of the Afghan Government on how they would be carried out.


Also speaking today were the representatives of China, Japan, United Kingdom, Lebanon, Brazil, Gabon, Austria, France, Nigeria, Uganda, Russian Federation, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Mexico, Canada, Italy, Germany, Norway, Australia, Pakistan and India.


The representative of the European Union also spoke.


The meeting began at 10:16 a.m. and ended at 1:41 p.m.


Background


The Security Council had before it the Report of the Secretary-General pursuant to paragraph 40 of resolution 1917 (2010) (document S/2010/318), which provides on overview of developments in Afghanistan since the Secretary-General’s 10 March 2010 report.  It summarizes key political and security developments, including the national Consultative Peace Jirga held from 2 to 4 June to define the framework for an intra-Afghan dialogue and facilitate talks on peace process mechanisms, preparations for national legislative elections in September, development of a national police strategy, and regional and international events.


It states that, during the reporting period, the Afghan Government continued with renewed determination to improve security, reintegration and reconciliation, prepare for parliamentary elections and strengthen regional cooperation in line with the commitments made during the 28 January London Conference.  Preparations were under way for the 20 July Kabul conference, which the United Nations would co-chair.


An advanced draft peace and reintegration programme — which included a review of the List established pursuant to Council resolution 1267 (1999), political accommodations, exile to a third country, transitional aid to individually reconciled insurgents, community development projects, creation of an agricultural and conservation corps, job training and de-radicalization programmes — was released at the end of April, according to the report.


Participants of the Peace Jirga in June concluded the meeting with a 16-point final communiqué that endorsed the initiative of Afghan President Hamid Karzai to convene a national dialogue on ways to restore peace and recommended that the Afghan Government draw up a multilateral peace programme as a national strategy for sustained peace, the report states.


Participants also called on the Afghan Government and international forces to release Afghans detained on “unreliable reports and unproved accusations” to remove the names of the Afghan opposition from the sanctions List established pursuant to Council resolution 1267 (1999), and to guarantee the safety and security of those joining the peace process.  In general, the Taliban has reacted negatively to the peace and reconciliation proposals.


Preparations for the September legislative elections commenced with the issuance on 17 April of implementation guidelines brokered by the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), attached to the 17 February Presidential Decree on the Electoral Law, the report states.  During the reporting period, the Independent Electoral Commission conducted candidate registration for the Wolesi Jirga elections, without incident.


Further to the report, UNAMA was working with Afghanistan’s National Security Council to develop a national threat assessment as part of Afghanistan’s security sector policy framework.  The United Nations mission was also helping to develop the National Police Strategy and National Police Plan of the Ministry of Interior.


Overall, the number of security incidents in the country increased significantly, compared to previous years and contrary to seasonal trends, due to increased military operations in the southern region during the first quarter of 2010 and significant anti-Government activities in the south-east and east.  Most incidents involved armed clashes and improvised explosive devices.  The report notes that, despite the unstable security environment, there were several positive developments in the civilian sectors since the Afghan Government took the lead in advancing the political process and setting out a progressive approach to implement the reform agenda towards “Afghanization” of security, governance and development.


In his report, the Secretary-General observes that this is a critical year in Afghanistan’s transition and it is incumbent upon UNAMA to focus efforts on a limited set of priority tasks, where it could bring the greatest added value and deliver effectively.  UNAMA is committed to engaging with the Government and with the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in the transition process and would continue to advocate for arrangements that took into account the diversity of local needs and conditions, capacity-building principles linked to Afghan priorities and national processes, and an equitable approach towards building a functioning State.


The Secretary-General also states that he was encouraged by the state of preparedness of the Afghan electoral institutions for the Afghan national assembly elections in September.  The preliminary list of candidates had the names of more than 400 women.  Adequate security must be provided to women to give them equal access to the electoral process.  Election security would remain a critical issue and the Independent Electoral Commission must balance polling-centre security against the need to make the elections accessible to all Afghans.  He also stressed the need for comprehensive, long-term electoral reform.


Briefing


STAFFAN DE MISTURA, Special Representative of the Secretary-General to the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan, calling this “a crucial year in and for Afghanistan” said Afghan and international stakeholders alike acknowledged that no military solution could bring about stability in that country.  For security gains to be sustained, Afghanistan required a political vision that was articulated, driven and owned by the Afghans themselves.  “Efforts must combine to create a sufficiently conducive political environment to counterbalance rising insecurity in a manner that signals that Afghanistan assumes greater responsibility for their country’s desirable end state,” he said.


Events set at the beginning of the year were broadly on track, he said.  In the aftermath of the Afghan-led consultative Peace Jirga in early June, UNAMA had fielded impressions by those who did not participate.  And despite their discontent at the limited representation at the Jirga, there seemed to be an overall positive feeling with the Jirga’s resolution “expanding the tent”.


A follow-up conference would soon take place in Kabul, which many foreign ministers and the United Nations Secretary-General were expected to attend, he continued.  A main objective was to foster confidence in the “public contract between the Afghan Government and its people” in delivering social and economic improvement.  If the international community was comfortable with the idea, he would seek a realignment of donor resources with those national priorities.  Doing so would help further the “Afghanization” concept.


He said UNAMA, with instructions from the Secretary-General to be proactive, had reconfigured its work, deciding to adopt a “three-plus-one” strategy with a focus on support to elections, fostering reconciliation and encouraging regional cooperation, while also focusing on “aid coherence” to help the United Nations better deliver services in support of the Afghan Government and people.


With regard to elections, he acknowledged that the previous elections had not gone well, but with much more monitoring among Afghans themselves, it was hoped that the next set of elections would be greatly improved.  Early on, an institutional stalemate between the presidency and the Jirga had seemed to block progress on elections.  Through a formula derived by the United Nations with the international community — the so-called “implementation guidelines” for the elections — had resulted in new leadership for the Independent Electoral Commission; the presence of two first-class international commissioners to the Electoral Complaints Commission with a concurring vote, and a reinforced guarantee for the constitutional minimum of 68 reserve seats for women.


He said with 2,677 declared candidates, of which 400 were women, there was no alternative than to move forward with preparations.  Security would remain a concern, however; if the elections were tarnished by excessive security problems, it would induce closing of voting stations.  Meanwhile, the Independent Electoral Commission’s Vetting Commission had been unable to conclude the list of candidates recommended for exclusion, he explained, but he understood that a decision on 40 people, representing different provinces, was imminent in the “next few hours”.  He added that the decisions by the Electoral Commissioner and other Commission members had been reassuring, which was significant because it had helped reassure those who had felt “they could be going in the wrong direction”.


On fostering dialogue among the different segments in Afghanistan, he said the United Nations looked forward to playing its role in confidence-building measures.  He also stressed the importance of fostering constructive engagement with regional players, having himself travelled to Pakistan, Iran and elsewhere to hear concerns.  Similar initiatives were being led by countries like Turkey, alongside other efforts such as the meetings of the Regional Economic Cooperation Conference on Afghanistan, the Shanghai process, and the Dubai process, which was being supported by Canada.  There was also the Kabul Silk Route Ambassadorial Group, held under United Nations auspices, meant to engage countries not necessarily geographically linked to Afghanistan, but which might have a political and historical relationship to the country.  Those discussions focused on economic issues, such as transport and energy, and also the problem of drug trafficking.


On aid coherence, he reported no excessive overlap between multilateral and bilateral support, and added that what was needed was more support to Afghan authorities to use that aid.  That topic would be a subject of discussion by the Joint Coordination and Monitoring Board on 8 July, which Mr. de Mistura co-chaired.  If the international community could go to the Kabul conference with a donor “realignment contract”, he was confident they could achieve aid coherence.


On the transition from military to civilian control, he said the United Nations 21 provincial and regional offices — peopled by more than 700 international staff and 6,000 national staff — would be hard at work to boost Afghan capacity to take charge.  It was important to present an aid package that would help make those workers feel they were on par with colleagues working in more secure parts of the world.  In that regard, he alluded to an offer from the Dutch Government to the United Nations to help establish secure accommodations, on which work was ongoing.


He also said there was a feeling of mutual support among the international elements in Afghanistan, and that, although they had different mandates and priorities, they were working closely to coordinate among themselves and to craft “common messaging” to avoid contradictions.  Their common goal was to help achieve a stable Afghanistan, while respecting Afghan culture, traditions, sovereignty and religion.  Concluding, he said this was a year in which all needed to be resilient, creative, and respectful of Afghan priorities.  The Security Council visit had given a strong boost to his own team and had also built a strong feeling among Afghan partners that the international community was, indeed, committed to its cause.


Report on Council Mission


ERTUĞRUL APAKAN ( Turkey) said the Council mission from 21 to 24 June to Afghanistan, which he had led, had been very productive, thanks to its excellent organization by UNAMA.  Council delegates had held substantive talks with members of the executive and legislative branches, meeting with the Afghan President, Foreign Minister, Speaker of the Wolesi Jirga and the Chairs of the Standing Committees of Parliament, as well as Cabinet members.  That had included extensive interaction with Afghan institutions, including the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission, the Independent Electoral Commission and the Electoral Complaints Commission.  The mission had also visited the training mission of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), met with the main international stakeholders, and with local authorities, United Nations specialized agencies, and families located in the returnees settlement.


He said that, during the mission, Council members had reiterated the Council’s support and enduring commitment to the Afghan people and Government in furthering peace, development and security.  They had underscored the message in the mission’s terms of reference (document S/2010/325), stressing the United Nations central role in Afghanistan, solidarity with Mr. de Mistura and UNAMA, and the need for free and fair elections.  They welcomed strong participation by women candidates and stressed the importance of socio-economic development.  They encouraged the Afghan authorities to further efforts to uphold the rule of law, human rights, and women’s and children’s rights, and stressed the importance of combating the narcotics industry and trade.  Council members had been briefed on various issues, including challenges concerning legislative elections scheduled for 18 September, the security situation, reconciliation and reintegration, and the importance of regional cooperation.  The official mission report would be prepared soon.


He commended the Secretary-General’s report on the situation in Afghanistan and said he agreed with its contents and observations.  He strongly supported the activities of Mr. de Mistura, welcoming the meetings the Special Representative of the Secretary-General held before coming to New York.  “The key work should be the Afghan leadership and Afghan responsibility in the period ahead,” he said.  Afghan ownership should be supported by the international community; the Afghan Administration should be empowered.  Parliamentary elections in September would be part of that process.  There should be a political process and the United Nations should be part of it.


A comprehensive approach, including security, governance, rule of law, human rights and socio-economic development, should be at the forefront, he said, adding that it should not be limited to military means.  Four areas needed special attention:  comprehensive economic development; a strong and well-trained Afghan military and police; national reconciliation; and a modern education and justice system to effectively combat extremism.  Another key was transition, but that should not be seen as an exit strategy, he said, stressing the intention to increase civilian efforts.  The new Turkish led provincial reconstruction team in Cevizcan would be based on the successful experience of the first one in Wardak province.  It would bring additional civilian capacity and complement ongoing development efforts in the region.


Regional cooperation should also be enhanced, he said.  Turkey had hosted the Fourth Turkey-Afghanistan-Pakistan Trilateral Summit in January, with a focus on education, as well as the Istanbul Summit.  The Istanbul Statement was the first manifestation in the region since the 2002 Kabul Declaration to emphasize regional ownership, and it provided a solid basis for enhancing regional cooperation.  As a follow-up to the Trilateral Process, the Foreign Ministers of Afghanistan, Pakistan and Turkey had met in Istanbul on 7 June and discussed the level of cooperation reached, current developments, including the Peace Jirga in early June, and the upcoming Kabul conference.  Turkey would continue to host the Fourth Regional Economic Cooperation Conference on Afghanistan after the parliamentary elections.


Statements


ZAHIR TANIN ( Afghanistan) lauded Mr. de Mistura’s efforts.  In the last three months, he had proven himself to be admirably able to bring all stakeholders together around issues and principles of common concern.  The Council’s visit had come at a crucial time for Afghanistan.  It was an opportunity to assess the current situation, prepare for the future and better understand the hopes, fears and expectations of the Afghan people.  Afghans were focused particularly on their Government’s increased role in the reconstruction and stabilization process, their expectations from the international community and how to address the insurgency.  Success in the coming years would depend on the ability to further involve Afghans in those crucial issues.  Seven months ago, President Karzai had presented a comprehensive national agenda to re-engage the Afghan people and enable them to take responsibility for their country’s governance, development and security.  That had subsequently been endorsed by the international community in London.


He said that the Afghanistan seen last week during the Council’s mission had made visible progress in the past months towards meeting its commitment, progress that is also reflected in today’s report.  The Afghan National Army and police, now operating with increased operational capacity, were on schedule to reach their combined target size and strength.  In partnership with the international forces, they had started to take back control from the Taliban in some parts of the country.  The Afghan Government was increasingly focused on efficiency and effectiveness, cracking down on corruption and promoting the rule of law.  President Karzai had recently called for initiatives to prevent nepotism in awarding high-level contracts and to require businessmen related to high-level officials to disclose their assets.


The Government had also taken steps to prioritize development, particularly in the agriculture sector, to ensure a sustainable economy, and it was investing in minerals and human resource development to prevent long-term prosperity, he said.  Last month’s Peace Jirga had brought together a broad and representative cross-section of Afghan society around the common desire for security, peace and justice, which marked an important step towards building an inclusive, unified Afghan approach to peace and reconciliation.


The Afghan-led parliamentary elections process was also well under way, he said, with 2,577 candidates, including 406 women, competing for 249 seats.  There was broad commitment from the newly restructured Independent Electoral and Electoral Complaints Commissions, as well as civil society to ensure a fair, transparent and credible process.  The election would be an important step towards strengthening people’s engagement to create a democratic system.  The upcoming Kabul conference, to be chaired jointly by the United Nations and the Afghan Government, would be a chance to detail the objectives reflected in President Karzai’s inaugural platform and the London Conference outcome.


Afghans had great hope, and great expectations, and aware that their country would still be under the bloody regime of the Taliban and Al-Qaida without the international community’s support, he said.  But they were disturbed about the ongoing debates among and between their international allies, and concerned that sustainable progress might be difficult to achieve without patience, fortitude and long-term commitment.  To build their trust and confidence, efforts should be geared towards ensuring that the transition strategy was implemented through capacity-building, empowering Afghans and avoiding waste; re-engaging the people in the transition process; ending the negative perceptions that had favoured the enemy; and ensuring visible progress in the short- and long-term.  The Kabul conference and parliamentary elections would be opportunities to achieve some of those goals.


The Peace Jirga outcome document recommended several steps towards an inclusive Afghan peace process, which the Government had already started to implement, he said.  The Government was creating a high-level council to oversee implementation of the peace and reconciliation process.  It had begun to review detention records, with a view to releasing Taliban being held without adequate evidence, and it had requested that the Council extend the review process of the Consolidated List as it prepared to submit a preliminary de-listing request.


“However, we must be clear:  we will not sacrifice the progress that has been made, or the principles on which our Constitution is founded,” he said.  “We will begin negotiations with any disenchanted Afghans who are ready to distance themselves from Al-Qaida and to participate in a peaceful and stable Afghanistan.”


WANG MIN ( China) said as a neighbour to Afghanistan, his country kept a close eye on developments there.  Improving security in Afghanistan was of prime concern, and although much had been done to strengthen the local security forces, there was a marked increase in security incidents.  Such insecurity had a negative impact on the assistance work being done by the international community, which was of concern to China.  It hoped that relevant parties of the international community would continue to support Afghanistan to secure the country.


Regarding economic and social reconstruction, he noted that weak infrastructure, lack of human resources and insecurity had stood in the way of progress.  As such, the international community should pay greater attention to supporting Afghanistan’s socio-economic and national development strategy, and should encourage the Afghan Government to make full use of the international assistance being provided to it.  He hoped that UNAMA would submit proposals in that regard.  In helping the Afghan Government and people exercise ownership for their country’s peaceful reconstruction, the international community should respect the nation’s sovereignty.  The international community should listen carefully to the views of the Afghan people during the Kabul conference.


He noted, as well, that President Karzai had visited China from 23 to 25 March, during which the leaders of both countries had carried out an exchange of views on the regional situation.  China would provide Afghanistan with assistance in the economic sector, and with technology, training and trade.


SUSAN RICE ( United States) underscored her country’s continued and full support to the critical role of the United Nations in Afghanistan.  She noted that UNAMA needed resources to conduct its work, as well as experienced and capable staff with a wide range of technical expertise.  She urged the United Nations system to move energetically and creatively to deploy staff to that Mission.


She remarked on observations made during the Council’s trip to Afghanistan, where the delegation had seen for itself the determination of the Afghan people — working across different economic and social sectors, as well as across Government ministries — to build a durable future.  At one refugee resettlement camp, Council members had been impressed by the people’s determination to shape their country’s future, finding their resilience “inspiring”.  The Council had observed, as well, the ongoing preparations for the September elections.  She welcomed the new leadership of the Independent Electoral Commission, while acknowledging the Commission’s calls for increased security at polling sites, and also welcomed the reconstituted Electoral Complaints Commission.  It was important for the United Nations to prepare to provide support to meet their needs.


Afghan representatives and leaders had briefed the Council delegation on their efforts towards reconciliation and reintegration, and on efforts to pull insurgent commanders off the field, she said.  They had also asked for the removal of some names from the “1267” sanctions committee List.  The Council was now reviewing the names on that List on a case-by-case basis to see whether their listing remained appropriate.  The Afghan Government must provide information on individuals for removal, as that was vital and urgent to that process.


The Council had also seen the result of efforts by ISAF and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) to help build a multi-ethnic army, she said.  The number of international instructors helping in that effort had also increased, but she admitted that much more needed doing to bring the army up to standard.  She added that multilateral and bilateral action was required to build momentum, following military action, which meant it would be necessary to ensure that international efforts were coordinated.


YUKIO TAKASU ( Japan) said the mission’s trip had been quite useful.  During the Council’s last meeting on the subject, it had emphasized the need for “Afghanization”, and the Afghan Government made a commitment towards that goal.  Things seemed to be on the right track.  Efforts on the Afghan side were moving towards advancing reconciliation, ensuring aid coherence, and achieving significant progress to build national capacity.  The international community’s support in that regard had been fruitful. The Japanese Government had extended for another six months the payroll salaries for Afghan-based personnel.  A major development had been the Peace Jirga earlier in the month.  Now was the time to materialize concrete plans based on the wishes expressed by the Afghan people and to support President Karzai’s leadership.  He supported Afghan principles in line with the Afghan Constitution.  He was encouraged by the Afghan authorities’ willingness to work on the reintegration programmes.  Japan would support the Kabul conference financially though the Reintegration Trust Fund.


He said that UNAMA would play an important role in the peace and reintegration process.  The Kabul conference was expected to discuss how to implement the commitments made during the London Conference.  Japan was ready to contribute towards a fruitful outcome.  Economic and social development was crucial, and he supported UNAMA’s approach to harmonize development aid to ensure aid coherence.  He was impressed with the Afghan Government’s strong determination to take priority in all important areas.  As a top donor, Japan would uphold alignment with Afghan priorities as a key principle, in such areas as rural agriculture, development capacity and human resource development.  It was essential for the Afghan Government to take a firm lead in tackling corruption.  The parliamentary elections must be fair and transparent, he said, noting that security remained a major concern.  Before the Council’s visit, President Karzai had visited Japan, which reaffirmed its commitment to the Afghan assistance package in the amount of $5 billion over five years.


MARK LYALL GRANT ( United Kingdom) said the Council visit to Afghanistan had been timely.  The scale of the challenge was clear to all, as was the need for international community’s support.  UNAMA’s focus on delivering its mandate was impressive, as was Mr. de Mistura’s leadership.  The United Nations played a central role in the overall international effort, which was important in terms of elections, reintegration and reconciliation, regional cooperation and aid coherence.  The security situation was serious, and increased attacks by insurgents on civilians were of real concern.  The recent doubling of attacks threatened ordinary Afghans, and support for civilian police training must be stepped up.  The International Security Assistance Force would assist in that regard.  Last week, British troops worked to empower Afghan trainers to support Afghan troops.  In the past six months, the Afghan National Army grew by 20 per cent with more than 7,000 troops joining the ranks.  Work would continue to hand over control to Afghan provinces.


He said the international community could not succeed, however, by only pursuing a military strategy.  He supported the emergence of an Afghan-led political process.  Next month’s Kabul conference was important.  He looked forward to the detailed plan of the Afghan Government to implement commitments made at the London Conference.  Key areas of concern, including in the context of reconciliation, had been highlighted by participants during the Peace Jirga.  He hoped that the Government would launch the Afghan reconciliation programme in advance of the Kabul conference.  That would play a key role in the development of a political track and final reconciliation.  The United Kingdom was firmly committed to the goals of a stable, prosperous Afghanistan.


NAWAF SALAM ( Lebanon) reiterated his country’s support to UNAMA, calling on it to coordinate its activities with other international stakeholders in Afghanistan, while being mindful of the lead role played by the Afghan Government.  He voiced concern over the increasing insecurity and condemned “terrorist operations” in Afghanistan.  Referring to the need to deal with root causes, he reiterated the view that a military solution in Afghanistan was not enough.  There was a need to combat illicit drug cultivation and trafficking, for example.


He welcomed efforts to arrive at national reconciliation and reintegration, and praised the outcome of the consultative Peace Jirga, in which hundreds of delegates had participated.  But he noted that more work must be done to bring about more inclusiveness, covering all Afghan political forces.  Expressing hope that the next elections would be more transparent, he said he was reassured by efforts under way by the Electoral Commission.  There was still a need to improve electoral law, and electoral officials in Afghanistan should try to make better use of United Nations assistance on that score.  Lebanon also supported regional efforts to bring regional stability, and he called on the Special Representative to continue working in that area.


MARIA LUIZA RIBEIRO VIOTTI ( Brazil) said it was encouraging to see progress in generating forces for the Afghan National security force and in their training, which was occurring slightly ahead of the interim targets spelled out in London.  But the significant rise in insecurity, especially in complex suicide attacks and improvised explosive devices, remained worrisome.  She noted with appreciation that the efforts of the international forces to reduce civilian casualties on their side continued to bear fruit.  The armed opposition was responsible for the largest majority of civilian casualties, however, which should be stopped.  She strongly condemned the latest attack on UNAMA.


She said that the Peace Jirga had produced recommendations from the Afghan people on the reconciliation process, and it was clear that the conflict could not be solved through military means.  It had determined that most low- and middle-rank insurgents could be reintegrated.  But the Council could see first-hand that there were divergent views as to when, how and with whom to pursue reconciliation talks, although President Karzai had laid out important criteria in that regard in his inauguration speech.  Meanwhile, Brazil was encouraged by trilateral and regional initiatives to foster regional cooperation, and welcomed the Kabul Silk Route Initiative.  The “clusters system”, in particular, was exceeding the initial expectations of the London Conference, and the donor community should match those achievements with comparable progress in the way it was channelling aid through the Afghan budget.  The upcoming Kabul conference was envisaged as a contract between the Afghan Government and its people, with the international community providing support.  Brazil would remain steadfast in its support.


ALFRED MOUNGARA MOUSSOTSI ( Gabon) said presentations just heard provided a clear understanding of the situation in Afghanistan.  He was deeply concerned by the flare-up of violence against civilians, NATO troops, UNAMA personnel and humanitarian workers.  He welcomed the transfer of UNAMA’s support functions to Kuwait without compromising the future of the Mission in Afghanistan.  The opportunity should be seized during the upcoming Kabul conference.  Despite the alarming security situation, tribute should be paid to the Government’s efforts to train military and civilian police, which was part of the Afghan National Development Strategy adopted during the London Conference.  Implementation of priorities, including the return of refugees, national reconciliation and strengthening of regional cooperation were essential to lead the peace and development process.  That would lead to development and afford the people of Afghanistan to take ownership of the peace process.


Regarding the September elections, he welcomed the democratization of mechanisms tasked with organizing them, including the Independent Electoral Commission and the Electoral Complaints Commission.  They enjoyed UNAMA’s increased assistance.  But they would only be effective if accompanied by ongoing dialogue.  Regional cooperation was crucial in the field of security development and counter-narcotics.  He supported ISAF’s strategy, adding that a military strategy alone would never suffice.  The international community must have a political solution focused on political dialogue.


THOMAS MAYR-HARTING ( Austria) lauded the significant efforts to include representation from a wide spectrum of Afghan society in the consultative Peace Jirga earlier this month.  It would be vital to ensure that all relevant actors be fully involved in the next steps, such as implementation of the peace and reintegration programme and creation of a national high-level peace council.  UNAMA should continue to support the Afghan-led reconciliation and reintegration process, taking into account the importance of the regional dimension.  Austria would like to receive more detailed information in the next report of the Secretary-General on how Afghanistan’s ethnic communities and female population were included in the planning and implementation of the relevant programmes — including with a view to implementing resolutions 1325 (1999) and 1889 (2009).  The Afghan National Action Plan for Peace, Reconciliation and Justice should be fully respected in the reintegration and reconciliation process.  The Amnesty Law that came into force at the end of 2008 was not in line with the demands of the Peace Jirga or international law, and it should be repealed.


Regarding the possible de-listing of Taliban-related individuals, the “1267 Committee” should be guided by the principles that the individuals should convincingly renounce violence, lay down their arms, break ties with Al-Qaida and fully respect the Afghan Constitution, he said.  In recent months, the Committee had been working actively with the Afghan authorities to obtain relevant additional data on listed individuals.  He encouraged the Afghan authorities to provide the Committee as soon as possible with the information required to successfully conclude the review by the 31 July deadline.  He welcomed the recent “instruction” by the Afghan Ministry of Education that, in view of the threat by the Taliban, schools should no longer be used as polling stations in elections.  Afghanistan could not afford such consequences for its youth.  UNAMA’s child protection capacity should be bolstered.


GÉRARD ARAUD ( France) remarked on UNAMA’s “fresh start”, noting the three-plus-one approach it had adopted in accordance with the Security Council mandate.  Its work in support of the elections should continue, taking care to interface with the Afghan Government and ISAF.  He paid tribute to the men and women of UNAMA, who worked under difficult conditions, and stressed that their security should be a priority.  The Council’s visit had been a chance to restate the international community’s views on the importance of maintaining rule of law, focusing economic development and fighting terrorism.  Seeing the challenges first-hand had strengthened the Council’s feeling that success could be had through political means, and not just through military and security efforts.  And while the work of the international forces — whether in the field or when training police — was of prime importance, negotiation was “the only way out of the impasse”.


He said that progress should be Afghan-led, but added that the United Nations should remain vigilant in ensuring that certain conditions were respected by all parties, such as renunciation of links with Al-Qaida and a promise to protect human rights and women’s rights.  The role of the United Nations should go beyond that of arbiter; it should contribute to launching negotiations leading to reconciliation.  He noted the appeal by some Afghan parties to re-examine the 1267 sanctions List, and said France was in favour of updating that List.  It counted on the cooperation of Afghan authorities to provide information on persons requested for de-listing.


Establishing good governance and fighting corruption were important to arriving at political reconciliation, but there was “still a long way to go”, he said.  At the upcoming Kabul conference, the Afghan side should offer specific details on how those aims would be achieved.  Commenting on the situation of neighbouring countries, such as Pakistan, he said the United Nations could perhaps bring together players with the aim of stabilizing the region.  It was essential that the transition from military to civilian control in Afghanistan not be considered a withdrawal; indeed, France would remain committed to helping Afghanistan for as long as necessary, and for as long as the Afghan people required it.


BULUS PAUL Z. LOLO ( Nigeria) condemned the attack on a United Nations vehicle, which had killed a United Nations staff member.  But, he noted that recurring attacks, explosions of improvised explosive devices and suicide bombs had failed to derail progress, and certainly had not deterred the 16,000 delegates from the consultative Peace Jirga three weeks ago.  Meantime, the Council’s engagement with Afghan stakeholders had afforded an opportunity to listen directly to the Afghan people and to demonstrate United Nations support to that country and its people.  This year was a watershed year, and the elections planned for September should serve to consolidate the peace process while avoiding the pitfalls of the last elections.  The three security ministries responsible for vetting candidates and working with the Electoral Complaints Commission should preserve the credibility and integrity of the electoral process.


He said that, while reforms might take a while to yield results, the electoral process should be able to garner public confidence and acceptance.  UNAMA should continue to support Afghanistan in its efforts to strengthen national capacity and enhance security, and it should continue to back the Afghan national security forces, as well.  The successes of the London Conference and Peace Jirga, and the holding of the Kabul conference should contribute to further dialogue in the country.  The Kabul conference should be a forum for rekindling the Government’s commitment to combat corruption, and to bring about justice and rule of law.  Also, since lasting peace could not happen without regional support, he urged regional actors to remain steadfast in their efforts to stabilize the region.  As for the request to de-list certain members of the Afghan opposition, the notion was agreeable, provided those parties met the criteria for de-listing.


RUHAKANA RUGUNDA ( Uganda) said that, despite strong efforts by the Afghan Government, the situation in the country was serious.  The number of security incidents had increased significantly during the reporting period.  He lamented yesterday’s death of a UNAMA staff member.  Security remained a great constraint to efforts to achieve peace and an obstacle to the goal of the Afghan Government and people.  The Government had forged ahead with implementation of national programmes critical to achieving peace and development in the country, and he commended it.  The Government should reach out to all Afghans to create peace and stability in the country.  He welcomed the Peace Jirga, as a national-driven effort was critical for achieving peace and stability, and he looked forward to effective implementation of its outcome.  He was encouraged by the progress in preparing for the September legislative elections, and he welcomed the successful registration process conducted by the Independent Electoral Commission.


He said that the increase in the number of female candidates would enhance the number of women participating in nation-building.  He welcomed progress by the Afghan people to take leadership and responsibility of the development process, as that was a sure way to build sustainable peace and development.  He called on development partners and the international community to align support with the priorities and programmes of the Afghan Government.  He supported four priority areas that UNAMA had identified for United Nations assistance.  They would facilitate laying the foundations for sustainable peace.  Emphasis on support for elections, reconciliation, regional cooperation and aid coherence would support development.  A regional approach and enhanced regional cooperation was also essential in the fight against the insurgency and the narcotics trade.  He commended UNAMA for its support of regional initiatives.


KONSTANTIN DOLGOV ( Russian Federation) supported UNAMA’s leadership aimed at constructive involvement to assist the Afghan process.  International efforts should be consistent to help the Afghan authorities achieve their development and security goals.  The upcoming Kabul conference, and parliamentary elections in September, must promote a democratic Afghanistan and effective development of State institutions.  They must also promote reconciliation, provided that they did not run counter to long-term security.  Dialogue was only possible with those who had laid down their weapons and were willing to negotiate.  He supported the sanctions regime, stressing that it was of fundamental importance that the sanctions supported principles that guided the Afghan leadership.


He shared the United Nations alarm over the number of civilian casualties caused by the Taliban.  Ensuring that the operations by the international military presence in Afghanistan were more targeted remained a pressing need.  A description of challenges such as terrorism should be incorporated into future Council decisions on Afghanistan.  Also necessary was combating the continued use of force and solving social problems of Afghan society, crop substitution and countering corruption, for which efforts by the Afghan Government alone would be insufficient.  The country needed international help from NATO and others to forge a broad counter-narcotics commission.  Afghan-led democratization was needed, which the Russian Federation would continue to support.


MIRSADA ČOLAKOVIĆ ( Bosnia and Herzegovina) said her country was fully aware of the crucial importance of the forthcoming September parliamentary elections for the country’s political and security development.  In that regard, she commended UNAMA’s leading and efficient role in providing coordination of international technical and logistical support.  She was particularly encouraged by the successful work done by the Independent Electoral Commission on the candidate registration and by the valuable contribution of the Electoral Complaints Commission.  Those achievements gave hope that Afghanistan would succeed in building up the necessary State infrastructure needed to guarantee the development of a democratic society based on rule of law and human rights, especially women and children’s rights.


Further, she commended the realization of the advanced draft of the Peace and Reintegration Programme and the successful organization of the consultative Peace Jirga hosted by the Afghan Government.  She looked forward to the 20 July Kabul conference.  Bosnia and Herzegovina was hopeful for concrete results at that conference, in particular the Afghan-led plan for improving development, governance and security, as such steps could facilitate adoption of the framework for an intra-Afghan dialogue and boost confidence for further discussions on how to reach a sustainable peace.


At the same time, however, she expressed deep concern over the security situation, noting particularly the 332 children killed or maimed during the last three months of the reporting period as a “terrifying testimony” of the reality in which the Afghan children lived.  She also recognized the important work of UNAMA in providing advice on the drafting of the National Threat Assessment and its assistance to the development of the Ministry of Interior’s National Police Strategy, as well as the National Police Plan.  She stressed the critical importance of regional cooperation for achieving the necessary security climate in the country, and believed that the Afghan-led reconciliation and reintegration processes were also crucial in that regard.  She commended UNAMA’S remarkable efforts in alleviating the vast humanitarian needs, adding that her country supported all efforts towards the return of refugees.  Especially encouraging had been the return of some 48,000 Afghan refugees from Pakistan through the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees programme.


Finally, Bosnia and Herzegovina was particularly sensitive to the mines issue in Afghanistan, and in that context, commended United Nations support to the Mine Action Coordination Centre of Afghanistan and its activities in the field.


Council President CLAUDE HELLER ( Mexico), speaking in his national capacity, reiterated that peace and stability in Afghanistan was a main priority for the Council.  During its trip, members of the delegation had learned personally of the various military and political dimensions to the situation in Afghanistan, as well as its regional aspects.  He agreed with the Secretary-General that, in this period of transition towards greater Afghan responsibility, it was important for UNAMA to focus on tasks where it could contribute the greatest added value:  strengthening cooperation with the civilian command of the ISAF and NATO; supporting the elections; and using its good offices to support implementation of reconciliation programmes under the guidance of the Afghan forces.


He deplored the acts of violence that were impeding further progress.  In the face of the recent change in ISAF command, protecting the Afghan general public was a priority.  The high number of children killed or wounded in the conflict was worrisome, and he voiced support for the executive order by the Ministry of the Interior banning the recruitment of children by the police.


As the Afghan Government slowly took responsibility, the international community must make sure that it had the human, financial and material resources to take up that responsibility, he said.  The UNAMA and the Council would have to continue providing such necessary support.  He reiterated the importance of the international community and the Afghan Government taking shared responsibility in fighting the problem of drug trafficking.  In addition, the Government must implement processes of justice and accountability to benefit vulnerable groups, such as children and people belonging to religious and cultural minorities.  A high percentage of women had participated in the Peace Jirga, which he commended.  Indeed, military action must be complemented by dialogue, to counter the cycle of violence.  He hoped that, at the Kabul conference, the Government would promise to do more to fight corruption and impunity.


JOHN MCNEE (Canada), described the upcoming Afghan-led international conference, the first of its kind in Kabul, was an important opportunity for the Afghan Government to engage Afghans in the future of their country, noting that at the recent G-8 summit in Canada, leaders had outlined their interest in seeing the Afghan Government deliver detailed plans and show tangible progress in implementing the commitments made in the London Conference Communiqué.  The four priorities on which Mr. de Mistura had focused, namely support for the elections, reconciliation and reintegration, regional cooperation, and aid coherence, were vital, and included areas of interest which were also highlighted in the Muskoka Declaration.  However, sight should not be lost of the other crucial areas, such as humanitarian assistance and sustained support to security transition efforts.


Canada also recognized the need to restructure UNAMA to ensure that its important work continued with minimum disruption, he said, also urging the United Nations to coordinate the international community’s political engagement in the context of the upcoming elections.  He welcomed the Afghan Government’s steps to address some of the international community’s core election concerns, including through the new Independent Electoral Commission and the clarification that a minimum level of women’s representation in elected office was guaranteed by law.


Key to stability in that country was Afghan-led reconciliation and reintegration that reached out to those who renounced violence, respected the Afghan Constitution, and had no links with Al-Qaida or other terrorist organizations, he stressed.  In that regard, the recent Peace Jirga was an important milestone, and he commended the Government on efforts to develop a “Peace and Reintegration Programme”, urging it to ensure that the programme and the work of the Peace Council were consistent with Afghanistan’s international legal obligations.  He also recognized the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs’ role in coordinating humanitarian assistance, and applauded efforts by the United Nations and non-governmental organizations to update contingency plans to respond rapidly and effectively to conflict-affected and displaced persons. The regional dimension of the Afghan situation called for energy and attention from its neighbours, countries of the region, the broader international community and the United Nations.


CESARE MARIA RAGAGLINI ( Italy), supporting the statement by the head of the European Union delegation, said the Kabul conference was an opportunity for the Afghan Government to renew its commitment to its people.  The international community must continue to encourage the Afghan authorities to accelerate the transition, whose formal pillars would be determined at the Kabul conference.  Donors were expected to commit to harmonization and alignment of aid to ensure the highest level of ownership by Afghan institutions.  Italy fully shared that goal and it was already channelling most of its funds through the Afghan budget.  The military presence in Afghanistan was still necessary to guarantee a stable security framework.  Strengthening international cooperation, and enhancing training and mentoring programmes for the Afghan Security and Police Forces, were a mainstay of that effort.  The number of Italian trainers in the framework of the NATO Training Mission, NTM-A, should reach 600 by year’s end.  About 400 training and mentoring operatives had already been deployed in the field, namely in Herat province; 520 would be there by the end of the summer.


He said that the military presence, however, could not be open-ended, but must be accompanied and then replaced by an increased civilian cooperation.  Afghanistan was not just a security challenge; it could be a source of economic opportunities, following the example of its western region, where the provincial reconstruction team was led by Italy.  Boosting investments and trade in Afghanistan could break the vicious cycle of poverty and instability.  That approach must go hand in hand with increased efforts to strengthen governance nationally and locally, and support anti-corruption strategies and capacity-building programmes in the public sector.  He pointed to Italy’s support to the National Legal Training Centre.  Italy also supported the new strategy on reintegration of the insurgency as long as it was Afghan-led.


PETER WITTIG (GERMANY) said that the upcoming Kabul Conference would be an important next step to review implementation and agree on further specific implementation steps, in particular in the field of economic and social development.  The improvement of basic services and governance issues would be the focus of that conference.  At the same time, the future of the country would depend as much on a genuine domestic reform process as on a stable regional situation:  the relationship between Afghanistan and Pakistan remained key to that regional stability.  Germany believed that reintegration and reconciliation were cornerstones for a political solution to the further positive development in Afghanistan.  Thus, the Peace Jirga was an important first step.  That process should be Afghan-led; the international community should provide support.


He said that the reconstruction process in Afghanistan had more than one component, and Germany had all along been pursuing a comprehensive civilian-military approach.  In conclusion, he highlighted that, under the United Nations aegis, his country would continue to contribute substantially to the efforts of the international community in Afghanistan by doubling civilian assistance, supporting the reintegration trust fund and further strengthening its training of the Afghan security forces.


PEDRO SERRANO, Acting Head of Delegation, European Union delegation to the United Nations, assured the Council that the Union Special Representative, Vygaudas Usackas, was working closely with Special Representative de Mistura.  As steps to reconciliation and reintegration took shape, the Union wished to stress that those processes should remain Afghan-led, based on the renouncement of violence and a commitment to human rights.  Strengthened regional cooperation also remained essential.  In that context, he welcomed the renewed diplomatic engagement between Afghanistan and countries in the region, and looked forward to the next session of the Regional Economic Cooperation Conference on Afghanistan.


He said that the European Union agreed that the Kabul conference on 20 July should not be a pledging conference, but an occasion for the international community to lend support to the Government’s renewed commitment to its people.  Welcoming that the United Nations was co-chairing the conference, he said the session should give explicit political support to the rule of law, respect for human rights and Afghan institution-building, security and development.  It should also lend political support to the fight against corruption and governance.  In particular, there was a need to advance the development of the formal justice sector and police reform, which the Union supported through various initiatives.  The conference was an opportunity to raise the profile of issues such as human rights, gender equality, freedom of expression and transitional justice.  The space for human rights defenders had become increasingly limited.


On the elections, he noted that candidate registration had concluded without incident and that the number of female candidates had significantly increased, compared with the 2005 elections.  It was crucial to ensure security for the whole process, in particular, for female candidates.  And while UNAMA was well on track with the implementation of its refocused mandate, recruitment was a matter of concern.  Shortfalls and reductions of UNAMA’s staff, including by relocations outside the country, should not compromise the execution of its mandate.


MONA JUUL ( Norway) emphasized the importance of continued United Nations support for advancing the human rights agenda in close cooperation with Afghan authorities and its independent human rights commission.  It was important to preserve the added value brought by UNAMA to the process of increasing Afghan ownership, in particular, the Mission’s international legitimacy, political outreach and field presence.  It was vital to reduce UNAMA’s vacancy rate, as well as to ensure the security of its staff.  A more flexible use of its critical staff was welcome, but should never compromise its ability to implement its mandate.


On the Peace Jirga, she noted the commitment made by participants to “demand a just peace which can guarantee the rights of its citizens, including women and children”.  Many Afghan women were concerned about their role and rights in the reconciliation process.  The Afghan people had a huge desire and need for justice; if that condition was not met, the situation would be further exploited by the armed opposition.  Adequate security for electoral staff and campaigners would be crucial to the elections, in particular, for female staff.  Concerning the Kabul conference, she cautioned against harbouring high expectations, encouraging the international community to focus on realistic achievements, as it was but one step in a longer process in which Afghan authorities must set their own priorities and implement tangible national programmes, supported by the international community under United Nations leadership.


GARY QUINLAN (Australia) said the ISAF strategy, which stressed civilian protection, increasing and integrating civilian activity and focusing on building Afghan-led capacity, provided a sound basis for addressing the priorities set forth in the Secretary-General’s report.  He thanked the United States for its leadership role in developing that strategy and he looked forward to working with General David Petreaus in furthering its implementation.  Australia was fully committed to doing its part in the international effort in Afghanistan.  He welcomed the ISAF decision to establish new multilateral arrangements for Uruzgan Province to replace the Netherlands from 1 August.  Australia would play a substantial role in those new arrangements, providing a senior civilian to head the provincial reconstruction team and its core civilian elements.  Australia’s civilian contingent in Afghanistan would increase from 30 to 50 personnel by September.  Those civilian enhancements built on Australia’s military contributions in Afghanistan, where there were some 1,550 Australian Defence Force personnel.


He said his country strongly supported UNAMA’s focus on “three plus one priorities”, support for elections, reconciliation and reintegration, regional cooperation and aid coherence.  It was important that the Afghan Government learned from the experiences of the 2009 elections.  Progress to date had been promising; however, more must be done.  The Afghan Government must press ahead with key electoral reforms, with a focus on strengthening anti-fraud measures and improving the capacity of the Independent Electoral Commission and the Electoral Complaints Commission.  Those reforms would be critical to build a strong, democratic foundation for Afghanistan, and ensure the legitimacy and credibility of the elected Government.  Australia strongly supported Afghan-led reconciliation and reintegration.  It would contribute $25 million to the Peace and Reintegration Trust Fund, subjected to the creation of appropriate governance arrangements and a role for substantial donors, like Australia, in the Fund’s administration.


ABDULLAH HUSSAIN HAROON ( Pakistan) said peace and economic development in Afghanistan was contingent upon a stable Government in Kabul, enjoying the majority support of the Afghan people.  The communiqué issued by the Peace Jirga was an enabling document to formulate a national strategy for sustainable peace.  He supported local ownership of the challenges faced by Afghanistan and the fresh momentum for dialogue and peace generated by the Peace Jirga.  The forthcoming parliamentary elections would also go a long way towards strengthening democracy and governance there.  Afghanistan’s major challenge had been insecurity driven by the insurgency and its exploitation by criminals and drug traffickers.  The Secretary-General’s report noted no great improvement in that area over the last three months.  That was regrettable, but disappointments or stereotyping the conflict situation could breed complacency and must be avoided.  Security issues must be resolved without seeking to externalize the problem.


He said that an effective security strategy hinged on capacity-building the Afghan National Army and Police institutions.  He lauded the fact that recruitment targets set at the London Conference had been met.  Sustained efforts to prevent desertions and representational balance between ethnic groups would bring closer NATO’s goal of progressively handing over security responsibility to the Afghan National Security Forces.  Pakistan was committed to further strengthening its friendly bilateral ties with Afghanistan, in the spirit of the two countries’ 2009 Joint Declaration on Directions of Bilateral Cooperation.   In March, the two countries had signed the Joint Declaration on Next Steps in Comprehensive Cooperation.  Pakistan’s aid package for Afghanistan was its biggest cooperation programme with any country.  Bilateral trade had also steadily grown.  Pakistan was also engaged in security and intelligence cooperation with Afghanistan, including through the Tripartite Commission.


HARDEEP SINGH PURI ( India) supported the Afghan Government’s efforts to reintegrate those individuals who were willing to abjure violence, did not have ties to terrorist groups and who were willing to abide by the values of democracy, pluralism and human rights as enshrined in the Afghan Constitution.  The process must be inclusive and transparent.  The forthcoming Kabul conference and the parliamentary elections in September would be important milestones to consolidate progress thus far.  Security and stabilization in Afghanistan would remain a distant goal unless the international community was able to isolate and root out terrorism, which included elements of Al-Qaida and the Taliban, as well as other terrorist and extremist groups operating inside and outside Afghanistan.  He fully supported efforts to expand the capacities of the Afghan National Police and Army.  They should be provided with appropriate resources, combat equipment, enablers and training before any plans were considered for the progressive handover of security responsibilities.  The security of Afghanistan and what happened there impacted India, as a close neighbour and civilization partner, whose ties with the Afghan people stretched into antiquity.


He said the aspiration was a stable and settled Afghanistan, where the rank and file of the Taliban had given up violence against the Government and the people, cut all links with terrorism, and subscribed to values of the Afghan Constitution and its laws, and where development was the hard rationale.  For such a structure to be durable and enduring, Afghanistan’s neighbours and regional partners must be in the picture, by consultation and adherence to the principle of non-interference on the country’s affairs, ensuring that it thrived as a regional trade and transit hub, and by eradicating transnational terrorism.  India was assisting Afghanistan.  Its $1.3 billion aid programme aimed at building infrastructure, capacity-building in critical areas of governance, health, education, and agriculture, among others, and in generating employment.


Mr. TANIN ( Afghanistan) acknowledged Mr. de Mistura’s efforts to bring all the stakeholders together, in the short time, to establish a new dialogue with the Afghan Government and to cause the different elements of the international community to work together.  He expressed gratitude for those efforts, saying the Government and people of Afghanistan sought a continued partnership with the international community.  He assured the Council that the Afghan community was aware of its responsibilities, and said the people would work with the international community towards a successful transition.


Mr. DE MISTURA thanked the Council for its advice and said security was understood to be an important concern, especially at such a critical time for Afghanistan.  He also thanked the Council for the trust and confidence it had showed him and his team, which would be greatly needed in the time ahead.  This was the year in which the people of Afghanistan would indicate the direction in which they wanted to proceed.  It would become increasingly important for the international community to maintain a certain resilience.


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For information media • not an official record