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Ban announces new UN envoy for Afghanistan on eve of London conference


27 January - Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today announced his intention to appoint veteran diplomat Staffan de Mistura as the top United Nations envoy to Afghanistan, as he heads to London for an international conference aimed at helping the country chart its future.

“Tomorrow's conference on Afghanistan comes at a critical moment,” Mr. Ban told reporters at UN Headquarters just before leaving for his trip, which will also include a stop in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, for the African Union summit.

“The Afghan people want a larger say in their future, especially in terms of development. National ownership is essential. 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.”

The conference, which will be co-hosted by the Secretary-General, Afghan President Hamid Karzai and British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, will be followed by another major gathering on Afghanistan to be held in Kabul in a few months.

Tomorrow's meeting aims to establish a strong compact between Mr. Karzai, his Government and his people, and to also set up a strong partnership between the Afghan people and the international community following last year's presidential elections, in which Mr. Karzai won another term as President.

“In London, we expect, first of all, that the international community should give a clear picture to the Afghan Government – how, and in what way, and how much we can support President Karzai in his efforts to bring peace and stability and economic development,” Mr. Ban said.

“At the same time, we expect that the new Afghan Government will come out with a strong compact in the area of good governance and how to address corruption, how to enhance human rights.”

Mr. de Mistura, a Swedish national who recently served as the top UN envoy to Iraq, will be tasked with leading the world body's efforts in Afghanistan, taking over on 1 March from Kai Eide of Norway, the current Special Representative of the Secretary-General and head of the UN Assistance Mission for Afghanistan (UNAMA).

“I am grateful for the support from all important stakeholders to this appointment that will help UNAMA extend its role in coordinating the international civilian effort in Afghanistan,” said Mr. Ban.

He also cited the need for a more balanced approach in moving forward, stating that “our civilian strategy cannot be an add-on to the military strategy… Balancing the cooperation between the military and civilian areas is very important.”