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UN 'not seeking' nation-building role in Afghanistan, Brahimi says

UN 'not seeking' nation-building role in Afghanistan, Brahimi says

Lakhdar Brahimi
Secretary-General Kofi Annan's Special Representative for Afghanistan today said the United Nations was "not seeking" any role in peacekeeping, nation-building or a transitional government in the country.

Ambassador Lakhdar Brahimi made his comments at a press conference in New York, where he also emphasized that the UN would continue its longstanding work on behalf of the Afghan people, both in providing humanitarian assistance and in seeking a settlement to the ongoing conflict.

Asked if the UN would be involved in a transitional administration or nation-building in Afghanistan, Mr. Brahimi replied, "I very firmly say that the United Nations - and this is as a consequence of discussion with the Secretary-General this morning - is definitely not seeking anything of that sort."

"Again, I repeat, the UN is not seeking a transitional administration [role] or peacekeeping or anything like that," the envoy emphasized.

At the same time, the envoy said the UN would welcome the possibility of helping the Afghan people to reconstruct their country. "We will definitely be doing as much as we can - that is a different thing from actually providing a direct administration for the country."

Responding to a reporter who noted that the UN had had peacekeeping operations "foisted upon it" in the past, including in the Balkans during the 1990s, Mr. Brahimi said that between "the Balkans and now, there is 10 years of experience - I hope we've learned something out of this experience."

"We cannot produce a solution out of a hat to this problem - all we can do is see how we can bring all the parties that have a say together," he said. "We will go wherever and whenever it is necessary and useful to do so, but you don't rush around just for the sake of doing it."

Explaining some of the complications involved in mounting a peacekeeping operation in Afghanistan, Mr. Brahimi said it was important to take account of the fact that Afghans were "a very proud people, and they don't like to be ordered around by foreigners, they don't like to see foreigners there, especially in military uniforms."