Kabul skips NATO-organised conference
KABUL (PAN): The Karzai administration has decided to skip a NATO-organised communications and public affairs conference on Afghanistan, scheduled to be held this weekend in Dubai, officials from both sides said on Thursday.
"At the highest level, the Afghan government recently decided not to send its representatives to attend the conference. Their absence is disappointing,” NATO spokeswoman Oana Lungescu told Pajhwok Afghan News.
Responding to an email from this news agency, she said the two-day event -- A Stronger Afghan Voice for a Stable Afghanistan -- would take place on November 17-18.
NATO has been engaged constructively with the Afghan government over the past months to plan the conference jointly, the spokesperson said. But Kabul has indicated its commitment to cooperating and coordinating with NATO in the realm of communications and public affairs.
Oana said the Ministry of Foreign Affairs had offered to host a follow-up meeting to the conference in Kabul in early 2013. “NATO intends to support this initiative."
However, she said NATO welcomed to the conference more than 25 representatives from the Afghan media and civil society. “So, Afghanistan will be well represented,” she remarked.
Rafi Firdos, a spokesman for the Office of Administrative Affairs, said they were in contact with NATO over the conference on coordination between the two sides after 2014, when all foreign troops are scheduled to leave the country.
In compliance with President Hamid Karzai’s orders, the 25 officials invited to the meeting would stay away, he confirmed. “The Afghan government wanted the conference to be held in Kabul.” Since its suggestion was ignored, the government delegation was asked not to participate in the gathering.
But a diplomatic source, requesting not to be named, said the government’s decision was driven by the omission of certain officials from the list of participants. Some officials wanted to attend the event, but the alliance did not invite them, he revealed.
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