U.N. focusing on Afghan transition

March 18, 2011 at 1:21 PM
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UNITED NATIONS, March 18 (UPI) -- The U.N. mission in Afghanistan is in a strategic position to help the government gain a sense of national ownership, a top U.N. envoy said.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai said last year he wanted his forces to take control over security operations in the country by 2014. As part of a gradual transition strategy outlined by top war planners, some of that evolution could begin as early as July.

Staffan de Mistura, the U.N. special envoy to Afghanistan, told members of the U.N. Security Council that the operations for the U.N. Assistance Mission in Afghanistan were geared toward transition.

"We have all the while placed emphasis in their capacity-building and ownership," he said in a statement. "And we are now positioned to assist the government and the Afghan people in key areas as long as needed and if as such requested."

NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said in a statement during a meeting last week that the transition plans "mark the start of a new era of stability, security and responsibility for Afghanistan."

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in his latest report on Afghanistan "process and transition" were top priorities in the country. Much of the political process, said Ban, could be ruined if political tensions in Afghanistan lead to "an entrenched political crisis."

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