Foreign ministers from the Group of Eight countries meeting in Italy
lamented corruption and drug trafficking and limited economic
opportunities in Afghanistan. They said better cooperation among
countries in the region is needed to promote stability and development.
They also said upcoming presidential elections in Afghanistan must be
Minister Franco Frattini said Afghanistan is a country of concern that
deserves the help and support of the international community. He said
it is in everyone's interest that it consolidates its path toward
stabilization, and strengthens security and economic development.
was speaking at a closing press conference of the meeting of the
foreign ministers of the Group of Eight industrialized nations in the
northern Italian port city of Trieste.
He said the ministers
discussed the upcoming presidential elections in Afghanistan in August
and the need for these to be credible.
He said all the G8
nations are committed to ensure that these elections are held in
conditions of security to achieve a result that will be legitamized by
the Afghan people.
On Saturday in Kabul, Afghan President
Hamid Karzai, called on the Taliban and other militants to vote in the
August 20 elections and he called on them not to attack voting
places. Mr.Karzai said militants should take part in the presidential
and provincial council elections and renounce violence.
foreign ministers in Trieste also endorsed Pakistan's battle against
Taliban rebels and pledged to work closer with the country's government
in efforts to combat terrorism and extremism.
focused on how to improve security in both Pakistan and Afghanistan and
how to combat insurgency and terrorist activities. Concern was
expressed that drug trafficking and the opium trade in Afghanistan help
fund extremism and the ministers said alternative sources of income
must be found.
The head of the United Nations Office on Drugs
and Crime, Antonio Maria Costa, said Iran should be involved in
The U.S. envoy for Afghanistan,
Richard Holbrooke, announced a new drug policy because, he said,
current crop eradication programs are not working and only driving
farmers into the hands of the Taliban.
Frattini said Ambassador Holbrooke announced that the United States will reduce
its financial support for opium crop eradication but that in parallel
they will earmark hundreds of millions of dollars to promote legal
The ministers said that efforts to deliver basic
services in Afghanistan, including health, education and water are
being hampered by the lack of security and widespread corruption.
also spoke of the big challenge Afghanistan is facing to bring back
hundreds of thousands of refugees. In order to do this, Frattini said,
the government needs to create attractive conditions in the
agricultural sector and improve its infrastructures.