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Cablegate: Un Hosts New York Meeting of Jcmb Countries

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THE FOLLOWING USUN NEW YORK 00164 DTD 21FEB08 SENT ACTION
SECSTATE INFO AFGHANISTAN COLLECTIVE UN SECURITY
COUNCIL COLLECTIVE REPEATED FOR YOUR ACTION 25FEB08


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UNCLAS USUN NEW YORK 000164

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E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL PGOV AF UNSC
SUBJECT: UN HOSTS NEW YORK MEETING OF JCMB COUNTRIES

1. (SBU) Summary: The UN Secretariat hosted a meeting in New
York for representatives from Joint Coordination and
Monitoring Group (JCMB) countries February 19 to deliver a
readout of the recent meeting in Tokyo, and to discuss the
upcoming Security Council renewal of the mandate for the
United Nations Assistance Mission to Afghanistan (UNAMA).
The UN said it was focused on implementation of the
Afghanistan Compact, and noted that it would have to "rebuild
trust" with the Government of Afghanistan following the
failed nomination of Paddy Ashdown to be the UN's Special
Representative, and the expulsion of a UNAMA staff member.
JCMB members pushed for a stronger UN role in Afghanistan,
and expressed support for prioritizing the UN,s many
responsibilities. Denmark was critical of UNAMA's weak role
vis-a-vis NATO and the United States. Russia, which will
serve as Security Council President in March, said Russia
expects to schedule a Security Council discussion of
Afghanistan on March 12, following the expected March 6
issuance of the latest UNAMA report. End summary.

UNAMA - PRIORITIES AND STAFFING

2. (SBU) Scott Smith, team leader for Afghanistan in the
Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO), told
representatives of JCMB countries that the UN was pleased
with the results of the Tokyo conference, and reported two
themes dominant in the discussion: the commitment of the
international community to Afghanistan remains "very strong"
and the Afghanistan government is gaining considerable
capacity in many areas, including security and governance.
Smith said the UN believes the key issue is implementation of
the Afghanistan Compact. Moving forward, it will urge
complete transparency on project details from the many
development agencies in Afghanistan. Following from this
process, the UN will work to require concrete benchmarks for
these assistance projects, in order to prioritize those that
have the most urgency. Smith said the UN detected little
interest in reopening the Afghanistan Compact; therefore the
JCMB remains the coordinating entity for the international
community in Afghanistan. Police reform, rural development,
election planning and counter-narcotics are among the UN,s
top priorities. Smith noted as well that the UN will
continue its political outreach throughout Afghanistan,
through its satellite offices in the provinces and its
headquarters in Kabul. This was a normal and essential
activity for UNAMA, Smith said, and does not involve any

3. (SBU) Smith said that the UN is discussing at senior
levels potential candidates for the replacement for Tom
Koenigs, the former Special Representative of the
Secretary-General (SRSG), and he was therefore not privy to

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the latest information. All those involved, however,
understand that the new SRSG,s relationship with President
Karzai is "critical." He added that the UN was working with
UNAMA to decrease UNAMA,s vacancy rate, as well as to
increase the number of international staff in the provincial
offices.

JCMB REACTIONS AND THE UNAMA MANDATE

4. (SBU) Canada echoed Smith,s call for a renewed focus on
implementation of the Compact, and said countries should
consider channeling more aid through Afghanistan,s central
budget. With regard to the UNAMA mandate, Canada is open to
prioritizing certain areas, especially elections, and would
like to see specific reference made to increasing UNAMA,s
security. The Netherlands said it would support language
strengthening the institutional relationships between NATO,
the UN and the EU. France, the European Commission, Russia
and Germany all supported efforts to prioritize the elements
of the current mandate, although they (as well as Pakistan)
said they believed the basic pillars of the mandate were
adequate and did not require drastic modification. Pakistan
and Russia said there was a clear "sense of urgency" for
UNAMA to do better. Russia, which will serve as Security
Council President in March, said Russia expects to schedule a
Security Council discussion of Afghanistan on March 12,
following the anticipated March 6 issuance of the latest
UNAMA report.

5. (SBU) Denmark, speaking on behalf of the Nordic countries,
criticized UNAMA,s conduct, arguing that the UN should hold
the international community,s "overall strategic vision" for
Afghanistan. The Danish diplomat described NATO and the U.S.
as the two dominant foreign centers of influence in
Afghanistan, not the UN andsaid this needed to change. He
added that UNAMA is leader-less and has a high vacancy rate
of professional staff; both negatively affect the UN,s
credibility and effectiveness in Afghanistan.

6. (SBU) Separately, poloff spoke on February 20 with Emmy
Takahashi from the United Nations High Commission for
Refugees (UNHCR). Takahashi asked that UNHCR would like the
Security Council to include language calling on all countries
to respect the voluntary repatriation process for Afghanistan
refugees.
KHALILZAD
UNQUOTE: RICE

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