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Cablegate: Srsg Eide and U/Syg Holmes Brief Sc On Afghanistan

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OO RUEHWEB

DE RUCNDT #0623/01 1962114
ZNR UUUUU ZZH(CCY ADXB54D81 TOQ6694 - 648)
O 142114Z JUL 08
FM USMISSION USUN NEW YORK
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 4592
INFO RUCNAFG/AFGHANISTAN COLLECTIVE IMMEDIATE
RUEHBUL/AMEMBASSY KABUL IMMEDIATE 0225

UNCLAS USUN NEW YORK 000623

C O R R E C T E D COPY (PARAS RENUMBERED NO MISSING PARA #4)

SIPDIS
SENSITIVE

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL PGOV UNSC AF
SUBJECT: SRSG EIDE AND U/SYG HOLMES BRIEF SC ON AFGHANISTAN

1. (SBU) Summary: On July 9, the Security Council met to
discuss Afghanistan, following the Secretary-General's
special report on the outcome of the June 2008 Paris
Conference. Special Representative of the Secretary-General
for Afghanistan Kai Eide and UN Under-Secretary-General for
Humanitarian Affairs John Holmes briefed on the situation in
Afghanistan. Afghanistan Foreign Minister Spanta, Pakistan
Foreign Minister Qureshi and other delegations (including
India, Canada and Iran) also addressed the Council. In his
brief to the SC, SRSG Eide confirmed that UNSCR 1806 was
sufficiently robust, and did not need further amendment.
However, he called for more qualified personnel and financial
resources to meet the UNAMA mandate. Eide said he was very
pleased at the unanimous agreement of the SC on the success
of the Paris Conference and the way forward with the
Afghanistan National Development Strategy and the UNAMA
mandate. He said the support for UNAMA was "more than
encouraging," and noted that he senses a different attitude,
one of a "readiness to be coordinated." U/SYG Holmes, who
recently visited Afghanistan for four days, stressed four
"serious and growing" humanitarian issues: food insecurity,
Afghanistan's limited capacity to absorb millions of Afghan
returnees from neighboring countries, an increase in civilian
casualties, and Afghanistan's vulnerability to natural
disasters. He said that PRT's engaged in humanitarian
assistance increase the risks to civilian humanitarian
actors, and called for the PRT's to provide relief only as a
"last resort."

2. (SBU) Afghan FM Spanta stressed that the insurgency is
sustained by a complex set of networks that cannot be
defeated by military operations inside Afghanistan alone. He
said that international terrorist networks constitute a
common threat to Afghanistan and Pakistan and can only be
defeated by a "coherent, integrated, regional, and global
approach." He expressed his full support for and trust in
UNAMA and SRSG Eide, and thanked the international community
for financial, technical, and humanitarian assistance.
Pakistan FM Qureshi expressed support for UNAMA but stressed
that the mandate is "specific and limited to Afghanistan,"
and noted that any relations between Afghanistan and Pakistan
would be handled bilaterally. Qureshi stated that Pakistan
has taken several measures to prevent cross-border
infiltration by terrorists and insurgents, but that the
security environment in the frontier regions deteriorated
sharply in 2007 when Al-Qaeda and some Taliban-linked groups
turned on Pakistan and its security forces. He expressed
Pakistan's support for the ANDS and emphasized Pakistan's
$300 million pledge for reconstruction and $20 million pledge
for the resettlement of Afghan refugees. While Council
members were unanimous in their praise and support for the
UN's effort in Afghanistan, China and Russia both expressed
concern that ISAF operations have caused an increase in
civilian deaths. Russia specifically mentioned civilian
deaths caused by "faulty air strikes." End Summary

Remarks by SRSG Eide

3. (SBU) Eide discussed the increase in insurgent activities
and condemned the recent attack on the Indian Embassy in
Kabul. In regards to the protection of civilians, Eide
stated that he is in regular dialogue with the Commander of
ISAF to develop ways to reduce civilian casualties, but
underscored that insurgents continue to display total
disregard for civilian lives. On a positive note, Eide
reported that the Independent Electoral Commission decided to
proceed with the voter registration process. He highlighted
two critical components of the Afghanistan National
Development Strategy (ANDS) - a massive institution-building
effort and the expansion of agricultural production and
energy projects. He noted that UNAMA had underestimated the
humanitarian challenges in Afghanistan, particularly the
emerging food security crisis. In his concluding remarks at
the end of the session, SRSG Eide said he was pleased at the
near unanimous agreement of the SC on the success of the
Paris Conference and the way forward with the ANDS and the
UNAMA mandate. He said the support for UNAMA was "more than
encouraging," and he sensed a different attitude, one of a
"readiness to be coordinated." He expressed his commitment
to carrying out the mandate under Afghan leadership and at
the service of the Afghan people.

Remarks by U/SYG Holmes

4. (SBU) U/SYG Holmes commented on his four-day trip to Kabul
and Nangarhar and Kunar provinces in East Afghanistan. He
described the humanitarian situation as "serious and
growing," and said that the humanitarian community is finding
it progressively harder to respond to humanitarian needs
because of insecurity and lack of access. He cited 137
serious attacks on humanitarian organizations so far in 2008.
Food insecurity fueled primarily by drought and the rise in
global food prices (particularly the 58% increase in the
price of wheat in 2007) is hurting Afghans badly. Holmes
stated that 4.8 million Afghans in neighboring countries have
returned home since 2002 (1/6 of the population), with over
140,000 returning home so far in 2008. According to Holmes,
another 2.3 million Afghan refugees are in Pakistan and
950,000 are in Iran. The country's capacity to absorb these
returnees is very limited. Holmes also called attention to
the estimated 150,000 internally displaced Afghans. In
regards to civilian casualties, U/SYG Holmes said that 698
civilian deaths have been reported by UNAMA so far in 2008,
compared to 430 in the same period last year. Of those 698
deaths, 422 were attributed to anti-government elements, 255
were attributed to national and international military
forces, and 21 were unattributed. Of note, the number of
accidental deaths caused by international and national
military forces decreased from 2007 to 2008. Children are
frequently being recruited into anti-government fighting
forces and have been victim to 228 school attacks in 2007 and
another 83 school attacks in 2008. U/SYG Holmes cited
Afghanistan's propensity for natural disasters (floods,
earthquakes, droughts), as a contributing factor to the
country's significant humanitarian needs.

5. (SBU) Holmes also expressed great concern about "blurred
lines between military and humanitarian activities,"
specifically citing Provincial Reconstruction Teams (PRTs) as
an example in which military humanitarian assistance
increases the risks faced by civilian humanitarian actors.
He said PRTs should only provide relief as a last resort in
cases where the security situation prevents civilian
humanitarian agencies from doing so. Donors should channel
money through mandated UN agencies and NGOs, and not through
PRTs, Holmes said.

Remarks by Afghanistan FM Spanta

6. (SBU) FM Spanta noted the recent spike in terrorist
attacks, the assassination attempt on President Karzai, the
Kandahar jail-break, and the drastic increase in the loss of
life in international military forces. He cited the "de
facto truce in the tribal areas beyond the border," as a
major factor contributing to the deterioration of the
security situation in Afghanistan. Spanta stressed that the
insurgency is sustained by a complex set of networks that
cannot be defeated by military operations inside Afghanistan
alone. International terrorist networks constitute a common
threat to Afghanistan and Pakistan and can only be defeated
by a "coherent, integrated, regional, and global approach."
Spanta welcomed the results of the Pakistani elections and
noted that Afghanistan supports the democratic process in
Pakistan and the expansion of friendly relations with
Pakistan's civilian government. He acknowledged that
narcotics and corruption undermine GOA's goals and create
conditions of instability. The Afghanistan Cabinet agreed
last week on the mandates and responsibilities of an
anti-corruption monitoring commission. Spanta stated that
Afghanistan would establish a special police force, special
courts, and new attorney offices specifically designed to
fight corruption. In regards to counter-narcotics, Spanta
asserted that poppy production has decreased in 23 out of 34
provinces while the number of poppy-free provinces has
increased to 16. FM Spanta called the Paris Conference a
"landmark success," and thanked the international community
for the $21 billion pledge for the implementation of the
ANDS. He expressed his full support for and trust in UNAMA
and SRSG Eide, and thanked the international community for
financial, technical, and humanitarian assistance.

Remarks by Pakistan FM Qureshi

7. (SBU) Pakistan FM Qureshi expressed support for UNAMA but
stressed that the mandate is "specific and limited to
Afghanistan," and noted that relations between Afghanistan
and Pakistan would be handled bilaterally. Qureshi stated
that peace and stability in Afghanistan are in Pakistan's
vital interest since they enable Pakistan and Afghanistan to
serve as a trade corridor between South Asia, Central Asia,
China, and the Gulf. He emphasized that apart from the
Afghan people, Pakistan has suffered the most from decades of
conflict in Afghanistan - specifically by hosting over 3
million refugees, suffering from instability brought on by
Afghan narcotics, and having to deal with instability in the
frontier regions which has become more acute since 2001. FM
Qureshi stressed that Pakistan has lost more soldiers than
any other country in the fight against terrorism and
extremism. Qureshi stated that Pakistan has taken several
measure to prevent cross-border infiltration by terrorists
and insurgents, but that the security environment in the
frontier regions deteriorated sharply in 2007 when Al-Qaeda
and some Taliban-linked groups turned on Pakistan and its
security forces.

8. (SBU) Qureshi expressed Pakistan's commitment to
cooperation with Afghanistan and Coalition Forces to
stabilize Afghanistan, but reiterated that Pakistan will not
allow foreign troops to operate within its borders. He asked
Afghanistan to take the following measures to enhance
operational cooperation: expansion of military deployments
and checkposts on the Afghan side of the border, real-time
intelligence sharing, caution in the use of artillery and
aerial attacks, supply of counter-insurgence equipment, more
effective monitoring of the 40,000 daily legal crossings
through the use of biometrics, and relocation of Afghan
refugee camps close to the border from Pakistan to
Afghanistan. Qureshi expressed Pakistan's support for the
ANDS and emphasized Pakistan's $300 million pledge for
reconstruction and $20 million pledge for the resettlement of
Afghan refugees.

Statements by China, Russia, Iran, and Libya

9. (SBU) China and Russia commended the Paris Conference and
expressed their support for UNAMA and SRSG Eide, but
expressed concern that ISAF operations have contributed to an
increase in civilian deaths. Russia suggested that this
increase is often caused by "faulty air-strikes." China also
called for the international community to provide more aid to
Afghan Security Forces to enable them to operate more
independently. Iran, one of nine non-Council members who
requested to participate, expressed support for UNAMA and
SRSG Eide, but called for more independence of Afghan
security forces and greater ownership of Afghans over the
security of their country. Iran also addressed narcotics
trafficking, asserting that Iran fights against drug
trafficking "with utmost seriousness and almost
single-handedly." Libya expressed support for the Paris
Conference and UNAMA, but emphasized that ISAF must do a
better job safeguarding Afghan civilians and providing those
who are imprisoned with fair and just trials as specified
under international law.

Remarks by other SC Members and Non-Members

10. (SBU) Italy, France, Belgium, South Africa, Panama, Costa
Rica, Indonesia, Burkina Faso, the UK, the US, Croatia,
Vietnam, as well as Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Japan,
Turkey, the Netherlands, and Norway all expressed strong
support for the priorities identified at the Paris
Conference, the UNAMA mandate, and the central role of SRSG
Eide. France, speaking on behalf of the European Union (EU),
reiterated the EU's commitment to the Paris Conference and
the final declaration published under the three co-chairs -
France, Afghanistan, and the UN. The Indian PR lamented the
loss of four Indians who were killed in the July 7 Indian
Embassy bombing in Kabul, and expressed India's renewed
commitment to working with Afghanistan to secure its
stability and development. He added several pointed comments
harshly criticizing those who harbor and train terrorists,
saying they are no better than "the basest criminals." He
also criticized "bargains for temporary and local peace" with
terrorists and extremists because they "send mixed signals
while the rest of us contend with the consequences of such
deals."
Khalilzad

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