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Uzbekistan, Calls For New Approach to Afghanistan

Uzbekistan, At UN, Calls For ‘Radical’ New Approach To Problems In Afghanistan

New York, Sep 27 2008 6

A radical overhaul of policies focusing more on economic and social assistance rather than military strength is needed if Afghanistan is to ever achieve peace and stability, Uzbek Foreign Minister Vladimir Norov told the General Assembly today.

In an address to the fifth day of the Assembly’s General Debate at United Nations Headquarters in New York, Mr. Norov said the situation inside Afghanistan was clearly deteriorating, despite the “enormous efforts and measures being undertaken” by the coalition forces and the wider international community.

Militants are carrying out more terrorist attacks, drug trafficking is growing in volume and the population is becoming more radicalized, he noted, adding it was clear that a mainly military-based approach to reviving the country had failed.

“The war which has already been ongoing for 30 years destroyed both economic and social infrastructure, led to the impoverishment of the population, and, this should be admitted, deprives people of any belief to their perspective and nurtures a feeding ground for recruiting the new militants,” Mr. Norov said.

He said the situation was now so dire that it was time to “radically reconsider the approaches towards the resolution of the Afghan problem… The main priority must become rendering of purposeful economic aid to Afghanistan, construction and establishment of economic and social infrastructure, ensuring population’s employment, and resolution of acute problems of combating poverty.”

The Foreign Minister also said it was critical “to do everything to provide for a respectful attitude towards national and religious values, centuries-old traditions and customs of the multinational and multi-confessional people of Afghanistan,” and to build on that to bridge divisions between different groups in the country.

Earlier this week, the Security Council voted unanimously to extend the mission of the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan for another year and called for it to be strengthened in the face of increased violence and terrorism from the Taliban, Al-Qaida and drug smugglers.

The nearly 50,000-strong force was created after United States-led forces ousted the Taliban regime in late 2001 to help the then-interim authorities maintain security across the impoverished nation.

The UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) was also established in early 2002 to support the country’s recovery, in part by coordinating all UN-led humanitarian and development activities.

ENDS

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