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High-level gathering urges sustained international support for Afghanistan

23 September 2007 Participants at a high-level meeting convened today at the United Nations by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and Afghan President Hamid Karzai called for sustained international efforts to support the war-torn nation as it proceeds on the difficult path towards peace and development.

“Afghanistan is going through a crucially important transition,” Mr. Ban told reporters following the meeting which brought together the countries and organizations represented on the Joint Coordination and Monitoring Board (JCMB).

The Board, which is co-chaired by the Afghan Government and the United Nations, oversees implementation of the Afghanistan Compact – a five-year development blueprint launched in January 2006 by the fledgling democracy and its international partners.

In a communiqué issued after the meeting, participants “underlined that the partnership between the Afghan Government and the international community, expressed in the Afghanistan Compact, is based on the desire of the parties for Afghanistan to progressively assume responsibility for its own development and security.”

They also stressed the need for “sustained international efforts to support Afghanistan to achieve this end.”

Under the Compact, Afghanistan committed to take specific steps in the fields of security, governance, rule of law and human rights, economic and social development, and counter-narcotics.

The agreement follows the successful completion of the Bonn process initiated in 2003, including the adoption of a new Afghan Constitution and the holding of presidential and parliamentary elections in 2004 and 2005.

While commending the progress made so far to improve the economic and social situation and to improve security, participants in today’s meeting also called for greater coordination in the areas of security and counter-terrorism, regional cooperation, counter-narcotic, and governance.

Mr. Ban said that while the challenges facing the fledgling democracy are “enormous and difficult,” the international community has reaffirmed its commitment to support the Afghan Government’s efforts in terms of economic and social cooperation.

The meeting also stressed the need for further efforts by President Karzai and Afghan leaders to promote inclusive political dialogue for national reconciliation, he added.

In that regard, President Karzai highlighted the ongoing peace and reconciliation process taking place in the country, as well as efforts to “bring into the fold” those Taliban who are not part of Al Qaeda or other terrorist networks.

As to how that identification process would be carried out, he explained that “those who are willing to come and participate and take part in building a stronger, better, prosperous, democratic Afghanistan are the good ones. Those who continue to fight are of course the bad ones.”

Over the past 18 months, Afghanistan has been tackling a Taliban-led insurgency responsible for some of the worst violence seen since United States-led forces ousted the regime in 2001.

Another major challenge for the Government and its partners has been the counter-narcotic effort, with the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) reporting recently that opium production in Afghanistan has soared to record levels this year.

Today’s meeting expressed great concern at that situation, underlining the link between drug production and trafficking and the financing of terrorist activities, and agreed that “breaking this linkage is vital to creating a stable, prosperous and democratic Afghanistan.”

Participating in the meeting were representatives from the United Kingdom, United States, China, France, Russian Federation, Canada, Germany, India, Iran, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, Norway, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Spain, and Turkey. The Asian Development Bank, the European Union, the European Commission, NATO, and the World Bank were also invited.

Also in attendance was Mr. Ban’s Special Representative in Afghanistan, Tom Koenigs, and a number of UN agencies, funds and programmes.



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