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Afghanistan: UN In Talks With Former Insurgents


Afghanistan: UN mission to boost dialogue with former insurgents, envoy says

The United Nations Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) said today it intends to continue reaching out to a number of groups previously involved in the insurgency that are now seeking to end the violence and participate in rebuilding the fledgling democracy.

Political outreach is one of the Mission's three priorities over the coming year, along with strengthening the rule of law and integrating the complex and numerous efforts underway in Afghanistan, the Secretary-General's Deputy Special Representative, Chris Alexander, told a press briefing in Kabul.

Efforts will include engaging with those Afghan individuals and groups who, for one reason or another, have come to feel excluded from the political and development process currently underway in the country, Mr. Alexander noted.

"We also intend to continue reaching out to some groups hitherto involved in the insurgency, who are now seeking ways to end the violence," he said. The objective is to help them "re-connect with their Government and their society, participate in strengthening institutions and join with us in a concerted effort to consolidate peace."

Conditions for dialogue with these groups are set by Afghans themselves - the Government, the Parliament and civil society - but clearly, "Those Afghans who show good will, who are willing to live under the current Afghan Constitution, to participate in Afghanistan's legitimate institutions, and to end their participation in violence - are welcome in this process," he said.

Afghanistan has experienced one of the bloodiest years since the fall of the Taliban in 2001 owing to increased violence and terrorist activity by the Taliban, Al-Qaida and other extremist groups. Mr. Alexander insisted that this would not deter the international community's efforts to bring stability and development to the country.

"Our conviction is that the appetite for peace in the coming year will grow and the dialogue about peace will be broader and deeper than ever," he stated.

Another area the Mission would be focusing on is strengthening the rule of law, including bolstering the capacity and performance of Afghanistan's justice institutions, as well as improving access to justice for all Afghans.

"The rule of law is not only about courts and prosecutors, trials and prisons," noted Mr. Alexander, stressing that improved law enforcement across Afghanistan will continue to depend on the success of police reform - a priority for the international community.

While the scale of the challenges inside Afghanistan has grown, so has international commitment to respond. "The international community is spending between $3 billion and $4 billion this year on development in all its forms, from roads to health care clinics," he said. In addition, there are provincial development plans now for all 34 provinces, and the number of international military forces in the country has doubled in the past couple of years.

Mr. Alexander expressed confidence that the coming year would mark a new beginning for the country, stating that "through political outreach, by strengthening the rule of law, and by integrating the very complex and large scale efforts underway to support Afghanistan, we think that 2008 can be a year of achievement for this country, a year of achievement for its international partners, and a year of achievement for the United Nations."

ENDS

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