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Global community's stake in Afghanistan's stablity

Secretary-General says global community has stake to keep Afghanistan stable

On the eve of an international conference focused on the future of Afghanistan, United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan today encouraged Dutch participation in the NATO-led force in the country and said all share an interest in promoting security there.

“No one can afford to see a destabilized Afghanistan in the region,” said Mr. Annan, speaking at a joint press conference with Dutch Prime Jan Peter Balkenende at The Hague. “We saw what it meant when Afghanistan was destabilized in the hands of the Taliban and terrorists. Do we want to go back to that?”

The UN, Afghanistan and the United Kingdom are hosting the London Conference on Afghanistan, a three-day gathering of world leaders that begins tomorrow. The Conference will launch the Afghanistan Compact, a five-year plan for engaging the international community in the strife-torn nation.

Mr. Annan, who held talks with Prime Minister Balkenende, said Afghanistan had made substantial progress with the international community’s support and it was time to consolidate those gains by focusing on reconstruction and recovery.

“But that kind of recovery and reconstruction needs to be done in a reasonably secure environment,” he added. “You cannot have development or reconstruction without security and you cannot have security without development. And all this has to be rooted in international law and respect for human rights or otherwise these developments cannot be long sustained.”

In response to a question on safety, Mr. Annan said the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) and the United States have helped maintain security as they train local troops. He said the troops heading south will help strengthen security so UN staff and other international relief and development workers can do their jobs.

Mandated by the UN Security Council and led by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), ISAF was created in December 2001 after the United States-led forces ousted the Taliban regime in Afghanistan.

It was initially created for six months to help the Afghan Interim Authority maintain security in Kabul and surrounding areas, so that the members of the Authority and UN mission personnel could work in a safe environment. The Security Council last extended its mandate, until October of 2006, in September.

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