Monday, November 24, 2014

Karzai: Afghanistan is not a puppet state

President Hamid Karzai warned the international community Wednesday to avoid meddling in governing Afghanistan as the country prepares to go to the polls to elect a new president later this year.

Speaking alongside NATO’s secretary-general, Karzai told a news conference in Kabul that his government’s foreign partners should respect and honor his country’s independence.

“Afghanistan … will never be a puppet state,” Karzai said.

karzai_interview.jpg Karzai faces re-election in August, at a time when the country is embroiled in a vicious Taliban-led insurgency, and the performance of his government has been criticized by the incoming President Barack Obama’s administration and other Western capitals as inefficient and corrupt.

As the new U.S. administration shifts the focus from the Iraq war to Afghanistan, Obama has also ordered a review of America’s strategy in the region. The results of the review are expected later this month.

In response to a deteriorating security situation in Afghanistan, Obama has also ordered thousands of new troops to the country’s south _ the Taliban’s heartland _ this year and his administration has urged other NATO allies to do more.

Karzai said that he appreciates the work that the U.S. and other members of the international community have done so far in the fight against terrorism and the reconstruction of the country.

Karzai said that some in the international community are proposing that the power of the central government should be weakened, without explaining who are those behind such an idea.

“That is not their job,” Karzai said.

“The issue of governance and the creation of (a mechanism for) good governance is the work of the Afghan people,” Karzai said.

Karzai was responding to a question from an Afghan journalist who suggested that international forces operating in the provinces were trying to directly support local leaders there.

Zalmay Khalilzad, a former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Afghanistan and Iraq, recently told The New York Times that he had warned the Obama administration that any attempts to focus on local areas at the expense of the central government risked being “regarded as hostile policy.”

“Some will regard it as an effort to break up the Afghan state, which would be regarded as hostile policy,” Khalilzad, who is an Afghan-American, told the newspaper in January.

Sticking to a populist tone Karzai said that the international community can only do its job with Afghan people’s support.

“With Afghanistan there should be respect and honor, and we will also respect and honor our allies,” Karzai said. “Afghanistan now is the owner of its land and nobody can disrupt our country,” he said.

A reminder of the conflict happened earlier in the day when a roadside blast in the capital hit a civilian vehicle, wounding three people.

The bomb went off as the vehicle passed a gas station in western Kabul, the Interior Ministry said, without providing further details.

Taliban militants regularly use roadside bombs to attack Afghan and foreign troops in the country but the majority of the victims are civilians.

KABUL (AP)

FISNIK ABRASHI ASSOCIATED PRESS

Ambassador Tanin Chairs UN Seminar on Assistance to the Palestinian People in Cairo

ztanin_oman.jpg Last week, Ambassador Tanin chaired of a UN Seminar on Assistance to the Palestinian People which took place in Cairo, Egypt from 10-11 March. Secretary-General Ban ki-Moon, along with Palestinian government and delegates from all over the world, spoke at the Seminar on the need for continuing assistance to help rebuild the Gaza Strip after the recent Israeli invasion, as well as additional need for economic development and an increased push for serious negotiations. The Seminar was organized by the Government of Egypt in conjunction with the UN Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, of which Ambassador Tanin is a vice-chair.

The Seminar lasted two days. Below are the UN Press releases on the event.

Coverage of the Seminar

Clinton pushes for Afghan meeting

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has called for a high-level conference on Afghanistan at the end of March.
Solutions to the situation in Afghanistan can only be found if the countries involved, including Iran, meet, she said.

Mrs Clinton was speaking at a meeting of Nato foreign ministers in Brussels, where the alliance agreed to resume high-level contacts with Russia.

She will meet Sergei Lavrov, her Russian counterpart, later on Friday.

Russia welcomed the Nato decision, which comes six months after it froze contacts over the conflict between Russia and Georgia.

Afghan challenge

Mrs Clinton stressed Afghanistan, which she called “Nato’s biggest military challenge”, was a concern for both Russia and the West.

“If we move forward with such a meeting, it is expected that Iran would be invited as a neighbour of Afghanistan,” she said.

French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner said that he hoped Iran would attend such a meeting, but noted that Tehran had failed to attend recent French talks on Afghanistan.

“I hope Iran will be here this time,” said Mr Kouchner.

BBC diplomatic correspondent Jonathan Marcus says Nato remains central to the trans-Atlantic relationship but it is facing a critical challenge in Afghanistan, where failure could call into question its whole credibility.

‘Fresh start’

On Friday, Mrs Clinton will hold talks with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.

The US is hoping that Russia will help secure new and safer supply lines for Nato troops in Afghanistan. Russia’s help is also crucial in engaging Iran and curbing its nuclear plans.

” Today’s visit may be dominated by… Russia but Afghanistan remains the trickiest subject ”
Mark Mardell, BBC Europe Editor

“We can and must find ways to work constructively with Russia where we share areas of common interest, including helping the people of Afghanistan,” said Mrs Clinton.

But UK Foreign Secretary David Miliband told the BBC that it was not “business as usual” with Moscow.

He said “the invasion of Georgia and continuing infringement of its sovereignty” could not be “swept under the carpet”.

Earlier, Russia’s envoy to Nato defended the war against Georgia and said any new relationship with Nato would be on Moscow’s own terms.

Some Nato members, like Germany and France, had long been pressing for the resumption of ties with Russia, arguing that their suspension has been counter-productive.

Source:BBC