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Swede awarded UN top job in Afghanistan

Published: 28 Jan 2010 08:00 GMT+01:00
Updated: 28 Jan 2010 08:00 GMT+01:00

Long-serving Swedish diplomat Staffan de Mistura has been appointed by UN chief Ban Ki-moon as his new envoy to Afghanistan.

Shortly before departing for a crucial London conference on the war-wracked country's future, Ban told reporters that de Mistura, a 63-year-old veteran UN

troubleshooter, would take up his new post on March 1st. De Mistura succeeds Kai Eide of Norway, who has been criticized over his handling of Afghanistan's fraud-marred election in August.

Ban said the Swede "brings an enormous wealth of experience and skills" to the post, but also took care to praise Eide "for his leadership of UNAMA (the UN mission in Afghanistan) during a very difficult period."

De Mistura has been deputy executive director for external relations of the

Rome-based World Food Program since last July, when he stepped down as UN special envoy to Iraq after less than two years in the post.

For nearly four decades, he has served the world body in conflict-ridden hot spots such as Somalia, the Middle East, the Balkans and Nepal.

Ban also noted that Thursday's London conference on Afghanistan "comes at a critical moment."

"The Afghan people want a larger say in their future especially in terms of development and national ownership is essential," he said. "At the same time, Afghans need to know that the international community will support them over the long term in building their institutions of government."

He stressed the need for "a more balanced approach" by the international community, giving as much importance to meeting the needs of Afghan civilians in terms of development as to the need to combat the Taliban insurgency.

The London conference, which brings together some 70 countries and organizations, is expected to agree that Afghanistan must assume responsibility for its own security as rapidly as possible, according to the organizers.

This will require the training of more Afghan police and soldiers to take over from the international forces, which number about 110,000 troops due to swell to 150,000 this year.

Karzai is expected to ask the conference to fund a $500 million programme to reintegrate Taliban fighters by offering them jobs and security to stop fighting, a move that could prelude peace talks.

The Islamist movement has repeatedly rebuffed negotiations with Karzai and his Western backers, and in an emailed statement Wednesday reiterated a call for all foreign troops to leave the country.

The only solution to the conflict was for all "invading forces" to leave immediately, the statement said.

On Tuesday, Karzai won regional support in Istanbul for his efforts to cajole Islamist insurgents to lay down their arms, as Germany offered more troops and cash for the ravaged nation.

After talks with his Turkish and Pakistani peers, as well as officials from countries such as China, Iran and Russia, Karzai said moderate Taliban fighters should be brought back into the fold.

In a joint statement after the meeting in Istanbul, the participants declared that they "support the Afghan national process of reconciliation and reintegration... in a way that is Afghan-led and -driven."

Meanwhile Ban also talked about his attendance at the African Union summit in Addis Ababa this weekend.

He said he would discuss with African leaders three key issues:

*development, particularly the need to help African countries meet the poverty-reduction Millenium Development Goals

*climate change and its "potentially devastating impact on Africa, as well as the important role African leaders can play in supporting the December Copenhagen accord

*regional conflicts and upcoming elections

AFP/The Local (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

08:41 January 28, 2010 by planethero
lol at this as soon as the 150,000 troops leave guess what will happen.

total waste of time.

250 uk soldiers dead already and god knows how many other soldiers and afghan folks, for what?
15:11 January 28, 2010 by Bolshie
Yet more imperialist meddling. The invaders will be driven out with their tails between their legs.
17:40 January 28, 2010 by eZee.se
@Bolshie

Ahahahahaahaha you sound like the former iraqi information minister!

Thanks for that!

A few other quotes you might want to borrow from him:

"There are no American infidels in Baghdad. Never!"

"My feelings - as usual - we will slaughter them all"

"Our initial assessment is that they will all die"

"I blame Al-Jazeera - they are marketing for the Americans!"

"God will roast their stomachs in hell at the hands of Iraqis."

"They're coming to surrender or be burned in their tanks."

"No I am not scared, and neither should you be!"

"Be assured. Baghdad is safe, protected"

"Who are in control, they are not in control of anything - they don't even control themselves!"

"We are not afraid of the Americans. Allah has condemned them. They are stupid. They are stupid" (dramatic pause) "and they are condemned."

"The Americans, they always depend on a method what I call ... stupid, silly. All I ask is check yourself. Do not in fact repeat their lies."

"I can say, and I am responsible for what I am saying, that they have

started to commit suicide under the walls of Baghdad. We

will encourage them to commit more suicides quickly."

"I can assure you that those villains will recognize, will discover in appropriate time in the future how stupid they are and how they are pretending things which have never taken place."

"We have destroyed 2 tanks, fighter planes, 2 helicopters and their shovels - We have driven them back."

"The authority of the civil defense ... issued a warning to the civilian population not to pick up any of those pencils because they are booby traps," he said, adding that the British and American forces were "immoral mercenaries" and "war criminals" for such behavior.

"I am not talking about the American people and the British people," he said. "I am talking about those mercenaries. ... They have started throwing those pencils, but they are not pencils, they are booby traps to kill the children."

"We have them surrounded in their tanks"

"The American press is all about lies! All they tell is lies, lies and more lies!"

"I have detailed information about the situation...which completely proves that what they allege are illusions . . . They lie every day."
18:09 January 28, 2010 by Bolshie
Its a view widely shared by most people in this world. it is you who is deluded mate. Both Afganistan and Iraq are aggressive colonial wars of conquest and occupation. Are you surprise people are quite rightly fighting back? Imperialism is losing yet again. You guys have not learnt the lesson. They will be defeated, best to get out now before any more loss of life. We know how many of the invading troops have been killed, do we know how many Afgans and Iraqis have been slaughtered at their hands? The reporting of these conflicts in the western media is so biased that the media like BBC, CNN.etc have become nothing less than an imperialist propaganda machine.
21:36 January 28, 2010 by planethero
imperialism is evil.

half a million dead in the iraq civil war.

not exactly stable is it.

and that is while the foreign soldiers are there.

people need to consider the lesser of two evils etc and create stability, even if that means dictators.

if the locals arent prepared to die for democracy, then they will never get it permanently.
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