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New UN Envoy to Afghanistan Takes Over Troubled Mission

The new United Nations mission chief in Afghanistan arrived in Kabul Saturday to take up his post, after a difficult year that saw the mission plagued by divisions and violence.

Italian-Swedish diplomat Staffan de Mistura promised to help improve the lives of the Afghan people, while respecting their sovereignty. He said the U.N. will focus on ensuring stability and socio-economic improvement in Afghanistan, while remembering that the effort should be what he described as "Afghan-led and Afghan-owned."

De Mistura previously led the U.N. mission in Iraq. He is replacing Norwegian diplomat Kai Eide as head of the U.N. effort in Afghanistan.

The mission suffered last year after a public spat between Eide and his deputy, American Peter Galbraith. Galbraith accused Eide of trying to cover up massive fraud in last year's presidential election. Eide denied the allegations and Galbraith was fired.

The U.N. mission was dealt another serious blow when, in October, militants stormed a U.N. guest house in Kabul, killing five U.N. staff members. That attack led the U.N. to evacuate hundreds of its workers.

Some information for this report provided by Reuters and AFP.