Thank you, Mr. President. Special Representative Kubis, thank you for your informative briefing today. Please continue to convey to UNAMA staff and UN country team members the deep gratitude of the United States for the critical work they do in the face of considerable challenges. And Ambassador Tanin, thank for your participation in this session.
Today, we are seeing the final steps in the preparations for a united and sovereign Afghanistan that will secure its rightful place in the community of nations. We commend the Afghan people as they manage three significant transitions: security, political, and economic. The United States will continue to support Afghanistan through this critical period, as we have jointly agreed in our strategic partnership agreement and committed to at the Tokyo and Chicago conferences.
Afghan security and police forces continue to grow stronger and more capable. Afghanistan reached “Milestone 2013” earlier this week, and we are now in the lead for security nationwide, with ISAF moving into a supporting role. We welcome the endorsement by NATO and ISAF Defense Ministers in Brussels on June 5th of the detailed concept for a non-combat NATO mission to train, advise, and assist the Afghan forces post-2014.
As we look to Afghanistan’s political transition, next year’s election will be an historic opportunity to achieve a unifying moment when power is peacefully transferred to a newly elected president. It will reflect the Afghan people’s success in conducting a credible, inclusive, transparent election. We look forward to the establishment of a broadly-agreed elections legislative framework as soon as possible. Implementation of legislation that establishes a credible process to appoint IEC leadership, guarantees the role of women, and puts in place a capable and impartial dispute resolution mechanism is the essential foundation for the credibility of the elections.
We support the Afghan-led peace process, recognizing that reconciliation is the best way to end violence and secure a unified and sovereign Afghanistan. With President Karzai, we continue to call on the Taliban to join an Afghan political process. As President Obama has said, the opening of a Taliban office in Qatar is an important first step. While there may be bumps in the road, the fact that the parties have an opportunity to talk and discuss Afghanistan’s future is very important.
With regard to the events related to the opening of the office this week, last January President Karzai and President Obama jointly called on the government of Qatar to facilitate an office in Doha for the purposes of negotiations between the Afghan High Peace Council and the authorized representatives of the Taliban. The United States supports the opening of the political office of the Afghan Taliban for this purpose. As we have made clear yesterday, we do not recognize the name “Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan” and are pleased that Qatar has clarified that the name of the office is the Political Office of the Afghan Taliban and has had the sign with the incorrect name in front of the door taken down. We have underscored that the office must not be treated as, or represent itself as, an embassy or other office representing the Afghan Taliban as an emirate, government, or sovereign.
Mr. President, the United States believes strongly that no nation can achieve sustainable peace, reconciliation, stability, and economic growth if half the population is marginalized. The United States will continue to stand strongly with Afghanistan’s women to protect and advance their hard-won gains.
Further, Afghanistan’s economic transition will ensure that the security and political transitions both succeed. Critical reforms are still necessary to achieve economic prosperity and to integrate Afghanistan into the regional economy. We welcome President Karzai’s continued commitment to affect those reforms and will work with all stakeholders to achieve that goal.
We also welcome Afghanistan’s continued engagement with its neighbors. The April 26th Istanbul Process ministerial in Almaty was encouraging, and we commend China for its offer to host the 2014 Istanbul Process ministerial.
The United Nations must play a central role as Afghanistan goes through these three important transitions. Most critical is UNAMA’s leadership in continuing to provide support to ensure that the 2014 Afghan Presidential Election proceeds as planned.
UNAMA’s support to regional diplomacy, the political process, and coordination between the Government of Afghanistan and donors in implementing the Tokyo Mutual Accountability Framework will also be a key part of the preparations as Afghanistan looks toward 2014.
Thank you, Mr. President.
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