Wed, Nov 07, 2007 - Page 5 News List

UN statement on Afghanistan calls for end to violence

AP , UNITED NATIONS

The UN General Assembly on Monday strongly condemned the increasing violence and terrorist activity by the Taliban, al-Qaeda and other extremist groups in Afghanistan and called for stepped-up efforts to to help the nation build a stable future after two decades of war.

A resolution, adopted by consensus and cosponsored by over 100 countries, stressed "the urgent need" to tackle the upsurge in violent criminal and terrorist activities -- including activities by those involved in the narcotics trade, which has had an upsurge in opium poppy production this year.

It also backed the Afghanistan Compact, a five-year blueprint adopted by the Afghan government and the international community in January last year to help the rebuild the country's government institutions and promote the rule of law, human rights and national reconciliation.

While the resolution is not legally binding, its support by the 192-member General Assembly was a reflection of the strong international backing for Afghanistan at a difficult time.

Insurgent violence in Afghanistan is at its highest level since US forces invaded the country in 2001 to oust the hard-line Islamic Taliban rulers, who harbored al-Qaeda leaders blamed for planning the attacks in the US on Sept. 11, 2001.

The focus of the violence has been in Afghanistan's southern and eastern provinces, but the insurgents are increasingly using Iraq-style tactics, such as roadside bombs, suicide attacks and kidnappings to hit foreign and Afghan targets around the country.

The resolution "strongly condemns the upsurge of violence, including the rising trend of suicide attacks, in Afghanistan, in particular in the southern and eastern parts, owing to the increased violent and terrorist activity by the Taliban, al-Qaeda, other extremist groups and those involved in the narcotics trade."

This has resulted in increased casualties among Afghan civilians and national security forces, the almost 40,000-strong NATO-led alliance and the separate US force with about 13,000 troops, it said.

The resolution stresses the importance of continuing international support to bolster security and promote reconstruction in Afghanistan.

It also calls on the Afghan government to continue tackling the instability posed by the Taliban, al-Qaeda and extremists "as well as by criminal violence, in particular violence involving the drug trade."

It stresses the importance of implementing a program to disband illegal armed groups and welcomes the government's commitment "to work actively at national, provincial and local levels to advance this commitment."

Ambassador Thomas Matussek of Germany, which sponsored the resolution, said "experience shows that reconstruction after a civil war is not a matter of quick fixes." This is "even more so in Afghanistan where two decades of a devastating war, civil war and the Taliban left no effective state structures to build upon," he told the General Assembly.

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