UN Security Council makes secret visit to Afghanistan

UN Security Council President Ambassador Kairat Umarov is greeted by Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani. Image credit: UN News Centre

–Arul Louis

United Nations, Jan 16: The Security Council has concluded a secret fact-finding mission to Afghanistan in a show of support for the war-torn nation where it denounced the activities of terrorists there, the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) announced Monday.

UNAMA said that the Council members “expressed concerns about the security environment in Afghanistan, including the presence of Al Qaeda, Taliban and ISIL (Islamic State)-Khorasan Province-affiliated fighters, as well as about the nexus of terrorism and organized crime.”

“All parties reiterated the need for greater international and regional security cooperation,” it added.

The three-day visit that began Saturday was lead by Council President Kairat Umarov, who is also the Permanent Representative of Kazakhstan. All the 15 members of the Council participated in the mission. They included US Permanent Representative Nikki Haley and the Netherlands Permanent Representative Karel van Oosterom, who is the Council member responsible for Afghanistan.

Umarov announced last Tuesday that a mission was forthcoming, but when it took place the visit was kept a secret because of the security situation in Afghanistan and was disclosed only after it ended.

During meetings with the Council members, Afghan officials expressed satisfaction with the development by India of the Chabahar port in Iran, which provides a sea link for Afghanistan, UNAMA said. It also has the potential to give other Central Asian countries a link to the warm waters.

India has already sent the first consignment of 1.1 million tonnes of wheat to Afghanistan using the port and roads it has built to connect it to the country.

The officials also said they hoped projects like the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India Pipeline (TAPI) for transporting gas would be implemented rapidly.

Council members met Afghanistan’s President Ashraf Ghani, Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah, other officials, NGOs, representatives of political parties and the leaders of the US-let NATO mission there.

This was the first visit of Security Council to Afghanistan in about seven years. The last visit was in June 2010.

The latest visit came ahead of a high-level Council meeting on Afghanistan on Friday to be presided over by Kazakhstan’s Foreign Minister Kairat Abdrakhmanov. Afghanistan’s Foreign Minister Salahuddin Rabbani and ministers of other countries are also expected at the meeting.

Members of the Independent Election Commission and the Electoral Complaints Commission briefed the delegation on the preparations for the upcoming parliamentary and district council elections in 2018, UNAMA said.

Council members emphasised the need for electoral reforms and the importance of increasing the participation of women in elections, it added.

“Both Security Council members and Afghan officials called for improved cooperation and coordination in the region, underscoring the need for the international community, particularly neighbouring countries, to support and cooperate with Afghanistan, especially in countering terrorism,” UNAMA said.


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