Ban, Clinton discuss Afghanistan
WASHINGTON (PAN): The US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, on Thursday met the United Nations Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon, and discussed with him issues of mutual interest, including a recent attack on a UN office in Afghanistan.
“The Secretary expressed great appreciation for the dedication and sacrifice of the brave men and women of the UN who have, in recent days, endured several tragedies — the attack and ruthless murder at a UNAMA compound in Afghanistan,” the State Department spokesman, Mark Toner, said in a statement after the meeting.
Afghanistanwas also discussed when Ban met top Congressional leaders at the Capitol. Meanwhile, the UN General Assembly observed a minute silence in honor of those who were killed in attack at the UNAMA campus at Mazar-e-Sharif.
“We have discussed many issues starting from Afghanistan to Sudan, Côte d’Ivoire, nuclear issues and I thank [you for] your leadership. In fact, I cannot agree more on what you have just mentioned on all of the subject matters we have discussed - that will give only great strength to the United Nations and to my role as a Secretary General,” Ban told reporters at joint press availability with Senator John Kerry, Chairman of the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee.
“We also discussed the development in Afghanistan, including the loss of UN staff last week. Thank you very much for your very kind words of sympathy. That also gives great strength to our staff,” he said.
Meanwhile, testifying before a Congressional committee, the US Ambassador to the UN, Susan Rice, said the principal UN organ for supporting the electoral processes in Afghanistan has been the UN assistance mission, UNAMA, which is a mission mandated and authorized by the Security Council. “And it was UNAMA personnel who were among the seven who were murdered last week in Mazar-e-Sharif,” she said.
Rice said UNAMA has played a very important role in trying to strengthen the international and domestic oversight functions of the electoral processes in Afghanistan, particularly in the wake of the disappointing 2009 electoral process.
“It has been UNAMA, under the leadership of Special Representative Staffan di Mistura, who is a first-class diplomat, that has pressed the government and the parties to ensure that the electoral processes are managed in a fair and transparent fashion,” she said.
“There's a body called the Independent Electoral Commission and the Electoral Complaints Commission, both of which, at various times, were under threat of being manipulated in such a fashion that they couldn't perform their roles independently,” Rice said.
It was the UN and Staffan de Mistura, working with the larger diplomatic community, that played an instrumental role in keeping those two organs on track and able to perform their role under the constitutionally mandated electoral process.
“So this process is still dragging out in terms of efforts to review certain aspects of the 2010 polling, parliamentary electoral process, and I think the United Nations has been the sort of focal point of the international community's efforts to hold feet to the fire and ensure that the processes are not manipulated for the political interests of any actor,” Rice told lawmakers.
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