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Karzai asks Security Council to expand international force in Afghanistan

Karzai asks Security Council to expand international force in Afghanistan

Hamid Karzai addresses Security Council
Addressing an open meeting of the United Nations Security Council for the first time, the new interim leader of Afghanistan today called on the 15-member body to extend and expand the mandate of multinational forces in the country.

Hamid Karzai, the Chairman of the Interim Administration, said the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) currently in Kabul was regarded by the Afghan people as a sign of global commitment to peace in their country.

While pledging to create national institutions to guarantee security – such as a national police force and an army – he said time would be needed to achieve that goal. “The extension of the presence of the multinational forces in Kabul and expanding their presence in other cities will signal the ongoing commitment of the international community to peace and security in Afghanistan,” he said.

“We hope that you would authorize an extension and expansion of the mandate of these forces,” he told Council members. The ISAF’s current six-month mandate began on 20 December.

Noting that his country could not have attained its current freedom without the sustained help of the international community, Mr. Karzai stressed that the Security Council had played a pivotal role in that effort. “Our people deserve the creation of a democratic government and we intend to act on their wishes.”

On behalf of the Afghan people, Mr. Karzai expressed his appreciation to the UN for its efforts to lay the foundation of a peaceful Afghanistan. He paid particular tribute to Secretary-General Kofi Annan for his “personal and continuous engagement to seek a resolution of the Afghan crisis,” and to Mr. Annan’s Special Representative, Lakhdar Brahimi.

“Our goal is to establish the rule of law and accountable, transparent governmental systems,” said Mr. Karzai. “This new Afghanistan will bring prosperity to its trading partners and stability to the region and the globe.”

On reconstruction, he pledged to use international donor funds with full accountability, preventing the “evil of corruption” and investing in the country’s social and economic growth. Among other areas, he stressed that the Government would support education for girls, drug eradication efforts and demining.

Extending a “hand of friendship” to countries bordering Afghanistan, Mr. Karzai said, “we are not prisoners of the past, but interested in living peacefully with our neighbours.”

“We will strive to build a government that responds to the wishes of our people,” he stressed, “and behaves as a responsible member of the international community.”