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UN urges sustained int'l support for Afghanistan
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Participants at a UN high-level meeting on Afghanistan urged on Sunday the need for sustained international efforts to support the central Asian country for its peace and stability.


UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and Afghan President Hamid Karzai co-chaired the high-level meeting to assess the progress made so far in Afghanistan and discuss further measures to help bring peace and stability to the central Asian country.


In a communique issued after the meeting, the participants reaffirmed their "commitment to the emergence of Afghanistan as a stable, peaceful, prosperous and democratic member of the family of nations."


They underlined the partnership between the Afghan government and the international community, expressed in the Afghanistan Compact - a five-year development blueprint launched in January 2006 by the Afghan government and its international partners.


The compact is "based on the desire of the parties for Afghanistan to progressively assume responsibility for its own development and security," they said, stressing the "need for sustained international efforts to support Afghanistan to achieve this end."


They also stressed the "central and impartial role" of the UN in leading international efforts, and expressed "full support" for the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), and other UN agencies in the country.


They hailed the progress made so far, noting gains in economic development and humanitarian indicators, as well as steps taken to improve the security situation.


"With a view to collectively addressing remaining problems, the participants focused on improving strategic coordination in Afghanistan across four main areas: security and counter-terrorism, regional cooperation, counter-narcotics and governance," they said.


Speaking to reporters following the meeting, the UN chief said the gathering was "very constructive and useful."


"Afghanistan is going through a crucially important transition," Ban said.


Ban said that while the challenges facing the fledgling democracy are "enormous and difficult," the international community has reaffirmed its commitment to support the Afghan government's efforts, in terms of economic and social cooperation.


The meeting also stressed the need for further efforts by Karzai and other Afghan leaders to promote inclusive political dialogue for national reconciliation, he added.


Karzai highlighted the ongoing peace and reconciliation process taking place in the country, as well as efforts to "bring into the fold" those Taliban who are not part of al-Qaeda or other terrorist networks.


Representatives from 17 member states, including China, France, Iran, the US and Britain, and international organizations and entities -- the Asian Development Bank, the European Union, the European Commission, NATO, and the World Bank -- attended the meeting.


The participants included US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki, EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana, NATO Secretary-General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer and China's UN Ambassador Wang Guangya.


(Xinhua News Agency September 24, 2007)

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