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New UN Envoy to Afghanistan Concerned Over Weak Kabul Government


The new United Nations envoy to Afghanistan says the weak government in Kabul and a poorly coordinated international aid effort is threatening the future of the country more than six years after the Taliban regime was ousted. Ambassador Kai Eide is using a visit to Washington to highlight his concerns about the situation in Afghanistan and VOA correspondent Meredith Buel has details.

Ambassador Eide says after his recent visit to Afghanistan and discussions with U.S. and European leaders that coordinating the international effort in Afghanistan will be his number one priority. "We have a very fragmented international community, strong and fragmented international community, meeting a fragmented and weak Afghan administration. That is not a recipe for success," he said.

Eide says there has to be better coordination among the international community to use aid more effectively and help the Afghan government grow stronger.

He says more resources are needed, but he understands why some donors are reluctant to send money to Afghanistan without significant strings (restrictions) attached.

"Yes I know that much of this is difficult because the situation is such on the ground that corruption is there, there is a lack of accountability, so it is difficult, of course, for nations to tell their parliaments, to ask for permission to use the money in the way we now seek.," he said.

Ambassador Eide's visit to Washington comes just days after Afghan president Hamid Karzai escaped a Taliban attack in Kabul.

It came on the same day a suicide bomber and insurgents struck a group of tribal leaders and police who had gathered for an opium poppy eradication campaign.

Afghanistan produces more than 90 percent of the world's opium and money from the illegal crop is helping to fund the Taliban insurgency.

Ambassador Eide, who was appointed in an effort to streamline and coordinate various development projects with the Afghan government and NATO forces, says the Afghans themselves must lead the reconstruction efforts.

"It must be led by the Afghan government with the support of the international community. The international community can never play a leading role in this respect. As with the military campaign, it is not the internationals who will win the hearts and minds of Afghans. It is the Afghans themselves. That we must understand and I am not sure it is fully understood everywhere," he said.

U.S. President George Bush met with Ambassador Eide and acknowledged that the United States and other countries are facing a long struggle in Afghanistan. But Mr. Bush says progress is being made.

"One, I am pleased with the number of roads that have been built. I am pleased with the number of schools that have opened up. I am pleased that a lot of young girls are going to school. I am pleased health clinics are now being distributed around the country. I am pleased with the Afghan army that when they are in the fight they are good. I wish we had completely eliminated the radicals who kill innocent people to achieve objectives, but that has not happened yet," he said.

That is why, President Bush says, it is very much in the interest of the United States to continue helping what he calls the young democracy in Afghanistan.

Mr. Bush says the United States is supporting Ambassador Eide's mission in Afghanistan to coordinate all the nation's reconstruction and development projects.

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