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Taliban Insurgency Tops List Of Concerns

Taliban Insurgency Tops List Of Concerns As Security Council Team Arrives In Afghanistan

With the Taliban insurgency posing a major problem for Afghanistan, the head of a Security Council mission there today pledged that the international community will stand by the country as it works to rebuild. "We fully realize that this country faces daunting challenges," Japanese Ambassador Kenzo Oshima told reporters in Kabul.

However, "the international community's resolve to work with Afghanistan to fight terrorism, to bring stability to the country and the region is strong" he continued, praising the Afghan Government and people for their achievements to date.

This is the first Security Council mission since the Bonn process ended in 2001 and the since the expansion of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) into the south and east of the country.

"Afghanistan has achieved a great deal over the past five years in terms of political development. You have a popularly elected President, a Parliament and a Supreme Court. And you have many other achievements, including over 5 million children in school," Mr. Oshima said at a joint press conference at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

"We are here this time to assure and to demonstrate the international community's strong, continued commitment to support Afghanistan in its reconstruction and peace consolidation," Mr. Oshima said.

Earlier today, President Hamid Karzai had candidly explained the problems his Government faces to the delegation. They discussed issues relating to security, insurgency, the fight against corruption, anti-narcotics policy and human rights, according to UN officials.

Mr. Karzai also emphasized the need for the international community to continue its support and assistance to help his Government deal with challenges ahead.

The UN Security Council delegation arrived on Saturday to review the progress and challenges facing the country as it strives to cement peace and stability following decades of confli provincial cities in both the north and south and meet people on the ground.

The mission comprises members from Argentina, Britain, Denmark, France, Greece, Japan, Qatar, Russia, Slovakia and the United States.

Members of the team were present during this weekend's meeting of the high-level Afghan-International body charged with overseeing the Afghanistan Compact.

The meeting was the third quarterly session of the Joint Coordination and Monitoring Body (JCMB). Ishaq Nadiri, senior economic advisor to the Afghan President and the JCMB's co-chair, said there was recognition on all sides that the Compact must remain on track.

"Good progress has been made in reconstructing the country despite increased insurgency in the south and southeast," he said. "But more needs to be done."

The JCMB oversees implementation of the goals of the Afghanistan Compact -- the five-year blue print for reconstruction that was signed in February 2006 at the London Conference on Afghanistan.

The JCMB found that security, financial bottlenecks, and Government capacity are the major problems needing to be overcome.

"We need to see a strong, coordinated effort by the Afghan Government and international community to meet the challenges ahead," said Mr. Nadiri. "They need to be met directly and immediately, and that will require a firm commitment."

Substantial new resources and energies have been deployed over the past months through the Policy Action Group, a high-level taskforce convened by President Karzai to address the security situation in the south.

"The international community must give strong backing for the Government's anti-corruption measures and focus on improving aid effectiveness so that more people benefit as development projects roll out across Afghanistan," said Tom Koenigs, Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General in Afghanistan and JCMB Co-Chair.

"We can and must cement peace, stability and progress for all Afghan people."

ends

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