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Search For Peace In Afghanistan Must Be Led By The People

Search For Peace In Afghanistan Must Be Led By The Country's People -- Ban

New York, Nov 20 2010 1:10PM

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said today that the search for peace through a political process in Afghanistan must be led by the people of that country themselves, and pledged United Nations' continued support for the efforts to restore security.

"We all recognize that there can be no purely military solution. This process must be Afghan-led, and it must respect the constitution and the rights of all Afghans," Mr. Ban told the Summit of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) on Afghanistan in Lisbon.

The Secretary-General stressed that civil, political and human rights of the people of Afghanistan cannot be traded for stability or "saved for later." "They are crucial for stability and an inherent part of an inclusive approach to peace," he added.

He said the search for a political solution has entered its initial stage, he said, noting that process will be long and uncertai n, with progress and setbacks.

"In accordance with our mandate, my Special Representative has offered -- and the High Peace Council has accepted -- UN support for such efforts.

"I would like to express my appreciation to the people and Government of Afghanistan and their international partners for supporting the role of the United Nations and the work of my Special Representative," Mr. Ban said.

He stressed the need to focus on reforms with diligence and unity to overcome the public tensions and disagreements. He noted that there has been a welcome increase in civilian-military coordination in recent months.

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"The leaders of ISAF [International Security Assistance Force] assembled here, are about to endorse a declaration that sets out priorities for the next year and stresses a real transition to Afghan leadership and responsibility. I welcome the Lisbon Declaration and the NATO-Afghanistan Partnership Agreement," the Secretary-General said.

"With effectively used resources, political will and mutual cooperation, we can succeed in helping Afghanistan to build back better. The Afghan Government and the international community, including the UN Assistance Mission, have defined a clear path for transition. Our shared goal is to achieve significant results by 2014," he added.

Outlining the basic principles that will guide the transition towards 2014, Mr. Ban pointed that although the process was a joint one between the Government of Afghanistan and ISAF, it encompassed the Afghan people, the country's neighbours and the wider region, and had a implications for global security.

"Our approach is based on attaining security conditions -- province-by-province -- for development work to be effective. We aim to build capacity and support Afghan institutions, especially security institutions. This will require long-term commitment and partnership," the Secretary-General said.

"We have a strategy, as well as mechanisms to implement it. But events can undermine even the best-l aid plans," he said, reminding leaders at the summit -- also attended by Afghan President Hamid Karzai -- of the recent attack by insurgents on the UN compound in Herat province, one of the most stable provinces in Afghanistan.

In comments to the press at the summit, the Secretary-General paid tribute to soldiers and civilians, both Afghan and international, who have given their lives in the effort to restore security in Afghanistan.

"The costs have been high, but the objective -- Afghanistan at peace -- remains necessary and just," he said.

He said the summit had culminated in the adoption of the Lisbon Declaration and the NATO-Afghanistan Partnership Agreement. "These are important steps forward that build on earlier conferences in London and Kabul, and on progress on the ground in Afghanistan," he said. Afghan institutions have also demonstrated that they can take on increasing leadership and responsibility, he added.

ENDS

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