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Building blocks in place for Afghanistan’s development, Ban tells Paris summit

Building blocks in place for Afghanistan’s development, Ban tells Paris summit

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon (R) with Presidents Nicolas Sarkozy (C) and Hamid Karzai
With the launch of Afghanistan’s own blueprint for development, fresh pledges from donors, the commitment of the Government and a strengthened United Nations mandate, the key elements for the rebuilding of the strife-torn nation are in place, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told world leaders gathered in Paris.

“These are the building blocks of our new partnership and of a new deal for Afghanistan,” Mr. Ban told the gathering, which he co-hosted with French President Nicolas Sarkozy.

The International Conference in Support of Afghanistan witnessed the launch of the Afghan National Development Strategy, the Government’s five-year plan to reduce poverty and promote economic and social development.

Mr. Ban said that the UN supports the Strategy’s concept of “Afghanization,” explaining that such a policy was not only about channelling more international assistance into Afghan institutions but to have all Afghans participate in the rebuilding of their country.

“Afghanistan’s development will in fact depend upon the aggregation of millions of decisions taken by Afghans every day in every district,” whether it be the decision by parents to send their children to school or not, the decision by farmers to grow opium or not, or the decision of young men to join the insurgency or not, he said.

The Secretary-General stressed the need for the international community to channel its funds more and more through Afghan structures, and for the Government to be able to account for the use of these funds with transparency and deliver results.

He also called the elections due to take place in 2009 and 2010 a “crucial test of the institutions that we have created together and of the confidence that Afghans have in them.”

In a declaration issued at the end of the conference, participants voiced their support for the Strategy which “will be our road map for joint action over the next five years and sets our shared priorities.”

The declaration added that the Afghan Government and the international community have today made “a commitment to a strengthened partnership, based on Afghan leadership, on a set of agreed priorities, and on mutual obligations.”

On the margins of the conference, Mr. Ban met with a number of officials, including NATO Secretary-General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini, Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi, and United States Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

He also held meetings with President Hamid Karzai and Mr. Sarkozy, before leaving Paris for London, the next stop on his trip, which will also take him to Saudi Arabia.