"Afghanistan will remain one of our main priorities in 2010": UN chief

08:27, January 07, 2010      

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UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon speaks at an open Security Council meeting on Afghanistan at the UN headquarters in New York, the United States, Jan, 6, 2010. The UN Security Council held an open session on Afghanistan on Wednesday.(Xinhua/Shen Hong)

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said Wednesday that "Afghanistan will remain one of our main priorities in 2010," and the relations between Afghanistan and its international partners "must be reevaluated."

The secretary-general made the statement as he was speaking to an open Security Council meeting on Afghanistan, the first open council session in this year.

In his report to the 15-nation Security Council on Monday, Ban cautioned against an "irreversible" deterioration in security and politics in Afghanistan and called for a new UN-led civilian effort to help build the war-torn nation.

The UN Security Council holds an open meeting on Afghanistan at the UN headquarters in New York, the United States, Jan, 6, 2010. (Xinhua/Shen Hong)

"There can be no doubt that Afghanistan will remain one of our priorities in 2010," Ban told the Security Council meeting.

"Last year was another extremely challenging period for Afghanistan and for international efforts to assist the government and its people," he said. "Difficult elections ... deteriorating security ... doubts about the current strategies of both the government and international community."

"All combined to produce further violence and uncertainty for a country facing immense challenges," he said.

Ban, in his new report, warned against the twin effects of deteriorating security and the fraud-plagued presidential elections in August 2009, both have contributed to the Afghan government's inability to deliver basic services, which is fueling the expansion of the Taliban insurgency.

"Efforts by the Taliban and insurgents to prevent people from participating in the electoral process has also destroyed social structures and traditional security mechanisms," he said. "This insecurity remains the single biggest impediment to progress."

Last year, about three times as many civilian deaths were attributed to anti-government elements as to pro-government forces, he said. "Most resulted from suicide attacks and improvised explosive devices used by anti-government elements, or airstrikes by pro-government forces."

"The vulnerability of civilians is a serious issue, with great implications for the standing of the government and its partners in steering the country towards stability and peace," he said.

"Afghanistan is at a critical juncture," he said. "All key players -- Afghan and international -- have drawn important lessons from controversial experiences and missed opportunities."

"I appeal to both the Afghan government and the international community to make the best possible use of the next few months," Ban said.

"AT the same time, the relations between Afghanistan and its international partners must be reevaluated," he said. "Well-prepared international conferences, both inside and outside Afghanistan, can help to ensure the sustainability of the international community's efforts."

"We are also committed to ensuring the safety and security of our local and international staff in this increasingly dangerous mission," he said.

Taliban militants killed five UN foreign staff in an attack on an international guest-house in Kabul in late October last year, prompting the United Nations to review its security procedures and strengthen the efforts to ensure the safety and security for both foreign and local staff who are active in UN mission in dangerous areas, such as Afghanistan.

Source: Xinhua
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