‘Six plus Two’ group stresses need for broad-based Afghan government
Following a high-level meeting under the chairmanship of United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan, representatives of six countries neighbouring Afghanistan, as well as the United States and the Russian Federation, agreed today on the need to establish a broad-based and freely chosen Afghan Government.
In a joint declaration issued after the meeting at UN Headquarters in New York, China, Iran, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, the US and Russia – collectively known as the “Six plus Two” group – “pledged their continued support to efforts of the Afghan people to find a political solution to the Afghan crisis, and they agreed that there should be the establishment in Afghanistan of a broad based multi-ethnic, politically balanced, freely chosen Afghan administration representative of their aspirations and at peace with its neighbours.”
The declaration, signed by ministers and other senior officials, “condemned the export of international terrorism by the al-Qaeda network and the ruling Taliban authorities for allowing the continued use of Afghan territory for terrorist activities.” It expressed support for efforts by the Afghan people to rid themselves of the Taliban regime, as well as international efforts to root out terrorism and bring the perpetrators to justice.
Welcoming the “central” role of the United Nations in assisting the Afghan people in developing a political alternative to the Taliban regime, the declaration endorsed the work by the Secretary-General’s Special Representative, Lakhdar Brahimi, particularly efforts to help Afghan groups urgently establish a broad-based Afghan administration.
Concerning the relief operations, the members of the “Six plus Two” group pledged continued support for the UN’s humanitarian efforts both inside Afghanistan and in refugee camps located in neighbouring countries. They urged additional contributions from donor countries and welcomed efforts by the international community to begin planning for Afghanistan’s long-term reconstruction once a broadly-based government has assumed office and peace has been restored.
During the meeting, Mr. Brahimi briefed the participants on his recent mission to the region. Representatives of each country spoke, except for Pakistan, whose Foreign Minister was not able to enter the UN building which had been closed following a plane crash in New York City.
Speaking to reporters after the session, the Secretary-General underscored the importance of quick action on the diplomatic front. “The group stressed the need for speed, and that, as things are moving very fast, we need to try and bring the political aspects in line with the military developments on the ground,” he said.
For his part, Mr. Brahimi agreed on the need to move quickly. “I hope that, because of these developments on the ground, we are going to try, as soon as possible, to get a – hopefully – a representative sample of the Afghan population together, and see what kind of interim arrangements we can work together for Kabul,” he said.