Thank you, Mr. President. And thank you, Special Representative de Mistura, for your comprehensive briefing.
Let me start by underscoring my government’s continued full support for the critical role of the United Nations in Afghanistan. We are deeply grateful for the continuing determination and courage of the men and women of the UNAMA, who have demonstrated their deep commitment to helping Afghans achieve stability and build democratic institutions in the face of enormous challenges. Our gratitude is all the greater for having seen their work and those challenges firsthand on the Security Council’s trip to Afghanistan last week.
Mr. President, our trip reinforced our strong support for Special Representative de Mistura and his team, who are helping the Government of Afghanistan face its most important and difficult challenges. Their vital work needs resources—especially experienced and capable staff with a wide range of technical expertise. I am grateful to the Special Representative and the UN Secretariat for their work in ensuring that priority positions in Afghanistan are filled. I urge the UN system as a whole to continue to move energetically and creatively to deploy needed staff to Afghanistan.
During our three-and-a-half-day trip, the Security Council saw a proud and determined Afghan people, working together across economic and social sectors and government ministries to build a durable future for their country. When we sat with young Afghan students in a refugee resettlement camp, they described their painful inheritance from three decades of war—but they also spoke compellingly about their ability to shape Afghanistan’s political and economic future. Their resilience was inspiring. And such resilience will be Afghanistan’s crucial reserve as the country faces the year’s challenges.
Mr. President, Afghanistan and the international community are entering a new phase of our partnership, on the way to full Afghan ownership. As a result, the Security Council focused its trip on those elements that will allow the Afghan people to exercise full control over their destiny: choosing their government, beginning a dialogue on the conflict, strengthening their ability to provide security, and fostering economic and political development.
As part of these consultations, the Council looked in depth at the ongoing preparations for the legislative elections scheduled for September. We welcomed the new leadership at the IEC and the reconstituted ECC. The IEC leadership spoke of the lessons learned from the 2009 election and its determination to improve the upcoming election’s credibility. The IEC also emphasized the need for increased security for polling sites, noting that they did not plan to open polling stations in insecure areas. Similarly, the ECC’s leaders underscored their commitment to act independently. And the United States, for its part, reinforced the importance of the United Nations being prepared to provide enough technical and operational support to meet the IEC and the ECC’s needs.
Afghan representatives and government leaders briefed the Security Council on Afghan led reconciliation and reintegration efforts designed to pull insurgent commanders and fighters off the battlefield. President Karzai and others also emphasized in this context the importance of removing names from the Resolution 1267 list. In consultation with other Committee members, we are thoroughly reviewing each and every individual and entity on the list—and determining on a case-by-case basis whether the listings remain appropriate. The United States continues to support delisting reconciled Taliban who cut their ties to al-Qaeda, lay down their arms, and accept the Afghan constitution. The United States also continues to work with our partners on the Committee and in the Afghan government to ensure that the 1267 regime can effectively and accurately list individuals and, when appropriate, remove them. During the trip, Security Council members underscored to our Afghan partners that the Government of Afghanistan providing credible information on each individual being considered for removal from the Consolidated List by the 1267 Committee is vital and urgent and we look forward to that information.
The Council also saw ISAF and NATO’s extensive efforts to build a multiethnic national army. The Council visited the Kabul Military Training Center to talk to ISAF and Afghan trainers, and we had the opportunity to see new Afghan National Army recruits from across the country. We learned that recruiting has increased, as has the number of international instructors. Moreover, Afghan soldiers are now being trained and tested against concrete standards, and the crucial non-commissioned officer core is being strengthened.
But much more work still remains to be done. More trainers are needed, both to fulfill existing NATO pledges and to fill gaps. Building self-sustaining, capable Afghan security forces is crucial to a meaningful and sustainable transition to Afghan leadership on security.
Council members also witnessed UN efforts to help returning Afghan refugees at the Sheik Mesri resettlement camp. We were briefed by the Provincial Reconstruction Team in Jalalabad on the ways that civilian officials are partnering with Afghans to develop and implement important initiatives on governance, economic development, the rule of law, and agriculture. These multilateral and bilateral efforts to build economic and political momentum following military actions are crucial to our strategy’s long-term success. To ensure that the international community’s efforts are effective, the United Nations should continue to promote coordination and unity of effort.
Mr. President, the United States expresses its gratitude to Special Representative de Mistura, to the UN team, and the Turkish delegation for organizing an effective trip to Afghanistan, and to ISAF/NATO for its support and security assistance. We look forward to continuing to work closely with the Special Representative to achieve our shared goal: of helping the people of Afghanistan transform and strengthen their own society and ensure their own security. Finally, let me underscore our profound thanks to President Karzai, Ambassador Tanin, and the rest of the Afghan government, including the Afghan security forces, for hosting such a productive visit and extending such warm hospitality.
Thank you, Mr. President.
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