Saturday, December 10, 2016

Afghan Minister of Foreign Affairs Visits New York

Afghan Minister of Foreign Affairs Visits New York

His Excellency Mr. Zalmai Rassoul, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Afghanistan, delivered a statement to the Security Council on Friday at a high-level open debate on “Post-Conflict Peacebuilding.” The debate was convened by Japan, which holds the Presidency of the Council for the month of April, and was chaired by Japanese Minister of Foreign Affairs H.E. Mr. Katsuya Okada. Also speaking at the meeting was Secretary-General Ban ki-Moon, Ministers from Timor Leste, Sierra Leone, and Bosnia and Herzegovina, and was attended by Managing Director of the World Bank Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala.

H.E. Dr. Zalmai Rassoul, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Afghanistan, addresses the Security Council at its open debate on post-conflict peacebuilding.

Minister Rassoul’s statement focused on the peacebuilding project in Afghanistan, which “began immediately after the fall of the Taliban in 2001” and still continues today. He highlighted the magnitude of destruction of the country as a result of decades of conflict, including destruction of the social fabric and the empowerment of networks of criminals, terrorists and drug dealers as well as “opportunistic regional elements” which fed on the instability. Given these challenges, he said, “we have achieved remarkable success,” including in security sector reform and disarmament, in the political structure, in infrastructure building, in governance and services, particularly health and education, and economically.

However, he went on to outline continuing challenges, particularly the security situation and the need for regional cooperation, but also in governance and in coordination. He pointed to several essential elements of the new London strategy, proposed by President Karzai, which are aimed at building peace and stability in Afghanistan and preventing a recurrence of conflict. In particular, he focused on the importance of Afghanization, of national leadership, and of a strong partnership between the international community and Afghanistan. In this regard, he stressed the need for intensified training and responsibility for the Afghan National Security Forces; for increased attention to engaging the Afghan people through institution-building and further efforts to spread good governance and address corruption; for a comprehensive reconciliation and reintegration to engage former combatants and isolate the hard-core terrorists and extremists; and most importantly for a long-term commitment to socioeconomic development to guarantee the stability and sustainability of progress.

H.E. Mr. Zalmai Rassoul, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Afghanistan with United Nations The Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon

During his two-day visit to New York, the Minister of Foreign Affairs also met separately Friday afternoon with H.E. Mr. Ban ki-Moon, Secretary-General of the United Nations. He had lunch with H.E. Mr. Katsuya Okada, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Japan, followed by a bilateral meeting between the two countries. He also met briefly after his arrival on Thursday evening with Ambassador Susan Rice, Permanent Representative of the United States to the United Nations. In addition, the Minister gave brief interviews to Voice of America TV, to Ariana TV, and to CNN International.

Minister Rassoul arrived in New York on Thursday evening and will return to Europe on Saturday morning, where he will attend an informal meeting of NATO Foreign Ministers in Tallin, Estonia, on 22-23 April.

Obama’s surprise visit to Afghanistan

In his first trip to Afghanistan as Commander-in-Chief, President Obama made a surprise visit to Kabul Sunday, March 28 where he met with President Karzai and others and also paid a visit to US forces stationed at Bagram Air Force Base. The visit was very positive and reaffirmed mutual commitments to the long-term partnership between Afghanistan and the United States.

US President Barack Obama was given an official welcome ceremony by President Karzai

During a joint press briefing, President Karzai extended the appreciation of Afghan people “for the help that America has given us in the past eight years, for the assistance given.” He further stressed his determination for Afghan progress “into the future towards a stable, strong, peaceful Afghanistan that can sustain itself, that can move forward into the future with confidence and better hopes.”

President Obama reiterated the continuation of support to and cooperation with the Afghan government by the United States to tackle many important issues in the country. He pointed to the visible progress made since his last trip in 2008, and highlighted the increase in electricity production in Kabul as one example. He cited progress already made “with respect to the military campaign against extremism in the region” stressing his country’s commitment to provide further assistance in agriculture, energy, rule of law and good governance. “All these things end up resulting in Afghanistan that is more prosperous, more secure, independent” President Obama said.

US President Barack Obama walks with Afghan President Hamid Karzai during a welcoming ceremony at the Presidential Palace in Kabul on March 28, 2010.

President Obama extended an invitation to President Karzai to visit Washington DC in May. “All of us,” he said, “are interested in a day when Afghanistan is going to be able to provide for its own security but continue a long-term strategic partnership with the United States.”

During his six-hour trip, President Obama also addressed some 2500 US forces at Bagram Air Field. He thanked them for their service and noted that their work was vital “to help Afghans forge a hard-won peace while realizing the extraordinary potential of the Afghan people, Afghanistan’s sons and daughters, from the soldiers and the police to the farmers and the young students.” President Obama also praised the work done by Afghan National Security Forces in ensuring security for Afghan population and building stronger defense capacity. He further emphasized the desire “to build a lasting partnership” with Afghanistan that is “founded upon mutual interests and mutual respect.”

Ambassador Tanin Chairs Palestinian Committee Meeting in Vienna

H.E. Mr. Zahir Tanin, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan to the United Nations and head of the delegation of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, chaired the opening session of the United Nations’ Seminar on Assistance to the Palestinian People which is taking place today and tomorrow in Vienna, Austria.  H.E. Johannes Kyrle, Secretary-General for Foreign Affairs of Austria, and Mr. Maxwell Gaylard, representative of the Secretary-General, spoke as well. H.E. Mr. Ali Al-Jarbawi, Palestinian Representative and Minister of Planning and Administrative Development of the Palestinian Authority, delivered the keynote address. Following the opening session, plenary meetings were conducted with participants including governmental delegations, NGOs, and UN system entities.

Ambassador Tanin Chairs Palestinian Committee Meeting in Vienna

The Seminar is on “Palestine: Ending the occupation and establishing the State”. “Our committee’s position is that the illegal Israeli occupation of the Palestinian Territory must end without conditions,” said Ambassador Tanin, who is also Vice Chair of the Bureau of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, in his opening remarks. He reiterated the support of the Committee for the just Palestinian demands and added that an end to the occupation should pave the way for a creation of an independent Palestinian State on all territories occupied in 1967, including East Jerusalem. Mr. Tanin also stressed the importance of progress in the political area. He predicted that in two years time, if such progress was made, a clearly defined Palestinian State based on the pre-1967 boarders could be enshrined in a United Nations Security Council Resolution.

Further, Ambassador Tanin expressed the Committee’s gratitude for international support and beseeched the international community for specific donations to alleviate the humanitarian crisis in Gaza and to ease devastating impediments on Palestinians in the West Bank. Donor support, he stated, is absolutely necessary to “promoting sustainable economic development and building institutions of the future Palestinian state”.

Tonight, Ambassador Tanin will host a reception for the participants of the Seminar. The Seminar will continue through the 25th of March, and will be followed by a meeting of Civil Society members on 26th March.