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    UN pledges long-term support to Afghanistan

    KABUL (PAN): The Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General, Ján Kubiš, on Wednesday reiterated the world body’s commitment to Afghanistan after the withdrawal of foreign troops by the end of 2014.

     “The United Nations has had a presence in Afghanistan for over 60 years. It is a deep and enduring partnership in which the UN will continue to provide support at the government's request,” he said.

    Co-chairing the second annual meeting between Afghan government officials and the UN country team along with Foreign Minister Dr. Zalmai Rassoul, the diplomat said the world body would back the war-torn country through the transition process and beyond.

    “We are here to assist in building the stability, growth and prosperity that the Afghan people aspire to and deserve," Kubiš told the participants, who conferred on ways of strengthening their partnership through the transformation decade.

    Rassoul acknowledged the UN support for the government’s efforts to build a more peaceful future for Afghanistan.

    “While transition continues toward greater Afghan ownership and responsibility, Afghanistan will still benefit from the support of the UN,” the foreign minister said in his opening address.

    A number of ministers, other members of the government and heads of the 25 UN agencies, funds and programmes working in Afghanistan attended the meeting.

    “In particular, the UN’s good offices are vital to move from its traditional role to technical support for Afghan-led political processes and capacity building for Afghan institutions,” he added.

    Rassoul believed the UN focus on aid coherence in support of Afghanistan’s National Priority Programmes, strengthening the leading role of government institutions and reinforcing integration and delivery remained crucial.

    Mark Bowden, the UN resident and humanitarian coordinator, highlighted the importance of strengthened partnerships with the government.

    “The UN will be defined in the long term by what we achieve over the next 2 years. During this period, we must not only engage fully in support of government but we must continue to think about the longer term, about the transformation decade,” he observed.

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