I join others in thanking you for convening this Open Debate of the Council.
At the outset, I would like to thank Under Secretary General Jean-Marie Gueheno for his briefing on the situation in Afghanistan and for his introduction of the Report of the Secretary-General. I would also like to extend to Mr. Kai Eide our warmest congratulations on his appointment as Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA). We highly appreciate the contributions by Mr. Tom Koenigs, former Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of UNAMA.
I welcome the presence of the Permanent Representative of Afghanistan and look forward to listening to his statement.
In his Report, the Secretary-General says â€œtwo years afther the adoption of the Afghanistan Compact, the political transition continues to face serious challengesâ€. We are deeply concerned over the current security situation in Afghanistan where, as reported by the Secretary-General, in 2007 alone there were 8,000 conflict-related fatalities, of which 1,500 were civilians. We condemn all acts of violence aimed at destabilizing the country, in particular those targeting innocent civilians, including the terrorist attack on 17 February in Kandahar which killed over 100 people. The difficulties and challenges that Afghanistan is facing today aer not only those of security nature. In reaffirming our support for the efforts of the Government and people of Afghanistan aimed at stabilizing and rebuilding the country, for the specific situation in Afghanistan which has gone through long decades of internal conflict and division, it is our view that besides measures to enhance security, the need to promote national reconciliation and a political process aimed at ensuring lasting Afghan and regional peace and stability should be duly recognized. For all the sufferings they have endured and for their earnest aspiration to move forward, the people of Afghanistan deserve the continued support and assistance of the international community in their cause of national rebuilding, the success of which depends on that against both major enemies - terrorism and drug. In this connection, we feel worrisome that Afghanistan remains one of the largest suppliers of cannabis in the world. While concurring with the urgent need to strengthen enforcement activities aiming at eradicating and interdicting illicit drug trafficking and dismantling production facilities, we believe that it is vital to address the pervasive poverty which is the root cause of this situation. Parallel to enforcement measures, there should be in-depth and action-oriented study to come up with initiatives in building alternate livelihoods for the people so that they can enjoy a better life without engaging in drug-related activities.
While commending UNAMA for its work in Afghanistan and supporting the recommendation of the Secretary-General to extend the current mandate of UNAMA for a further 12 months, we are of the opinion that in the context of the complex security situation still prevailing in Afghanistan, UNAMA should focus on carrying out its present mandate though we agree with Under-Secretary-General Gueheno that the mandate can be sharpened. We support the willingness of UNAMA to play a role in supporting the electoral process by providing technical assistance, and channelling international funds earmarked to support Afghan electoral institutions. However, this must be at the official request of the Government of Afghanistan in accordance with the principle of respect for the independence and sovereignty of Afghanistan.
With the people of Afghanistan, we share a special bond of traditional friendship. We have always followed with keen interest and concern the situation in Afghanistan. Viet Nam has participated in the international conferences on reconstruction of Afghanistan. With our limited resources, we have extended to the people of Afghanistan our modest assistance. With our post-war reconstruction experience, we are ready to join Afghanistanâ€™s reconstruction efforts, bilaterally and in tripartite frameworks with the participation of donor countries and the Afghan Government.
I thank you, Mr. President.