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As Afghan interim authority prepares to take power, UN stands ready to help - Annan

As Afghan interim authority prepares to take power, UN stands ready to help - Annan

As the new United Nations-brokered interim government for Afghanistan prepares to assume authority this weekend, Secretary-General Kofi Annan today pledged that the world body would support the Afghans and give them whatever help was needed to implement the power-sharing plan.

"We will be there with them on 22 December to give them whatever assistance we can, and we are going to take them on their word and work with them in good faith to implement the agreement that they willingly signed in Bonn," Mr. Annan said during the question-and-answer portion of his annual year-end press conference at UN Headquarters in New York.

The agreement reached in Bonn and signed earlier this month by the Afghans was a good one, the Secretary-General stressed, adding that the UN would try to get the leaders to serve the interests of the country.

"Obviously when you start an operation like the one the UN is about to undertake in Afghanistan - a country that has been at war for over two decades - you do worry about getting people to forget their bad habits and come together and work in the interest of their country and their people," he said.

Mr. Annan pointed out that his Special Representative for Afghanistan, Lakhdar Brahimi, went to Kabul after the negotiations and talked to quite a few of the key leaders who were not in Bonn. He added that while they expressed some disagreement or reservations about the accord, those leaders confirmed to Mr. Brahimi that they were in favour of the agreement.

The Secretary-General also underscored the need for the country's neighbours to use their influence to work with the UN towards establishing a stable Afghanistan, which was in their best interests. Furthermore, effective security arrangements were also needed to create the right environment for the new government to work and the UN to continue its assistance to the interim body as well as its relief efforts.