Saturday, December 10, 2016

Afghanistan Establishes Diplomatic Relations with Bhutan

Establishment of Diplomatic Relations with Bhutan

Today, the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan celebrated an important occasion in its history, as it formally established diplomatic and consular relations with the Royal Government of Bhutan for the first time. This event marks a new era of cooperation and understanding between these two friendly countries. It takes place on the eve of the 16th meeting of the South Asian Association for Regional Co-operation (SAARC) in Thimphu, Bhutan, highlighting the importance of building stronger regional relations for Afghanistan and its neighbors.

H.E. Dr. Zahir Tanin, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of the Islamic Republic Afghanistan to the United Nations, and H.E. Mr. Lhatu Wangchuk, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of the Royal Government of Bhutan to the United Nations.

The signing of the Joint Communiqué on the establishment of diplomatic and consular relations between the two countries was carried out by H.E. Dr. Zahir Tanin, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of the Islamic Republic Afghanistan to the United Nations, and by H.E. Mr. Lhatu Wangchuk, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of the Royal Government of Bhutan to the United Nations.

On the occasion, Ambassador Tanin expressed his delight that these two countries could work more closely together, and emphasized that he was looking forward to closer ties between the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan and the Royal Government of Bhutan in the future. Ambassador Wangchuk welcomed and returned Ambassador Tanin’s sentiments, adding that the people of the Kingdom of Bhutan wished peace and prosperity upon the people of Afghanistan, particularly in light of their suffering over the past three decades.

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.”