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Outgoing UN Envoy Calls for New International Focus in Afghanistan

Kai Eide says Afghans feel their country is treated as a 'no man's land' instead of a sovereign nation

The top U.N. official in Afghanistan says the success of the international mission in the country depends on foreigners demonstrating a greater understanding of Afghan society.

Special Representative Kai Eide says there has been a strong tendency for the international community to shape strategy and make decisions in a way that Afghans perceive as "disrespectful and sometimes arrogant." He says Afghans feel their country is treated as a "no man's land" instead of a sovereign nation.

Eide commented to the U.N. Security Council Wednesday in his final appearance before the group as the U.N.'s top envoy in Afghanistan.

Meanwhile, Afghanistan's U.N. ambassador Zahir Tanin called for an easing of U.N. sanctions on Taliban fighters who renounce violence and agree to support the government. He said the Afghan government would recommend names of people who should no longer be subject to the asset freezes, travel bans and arms embargoes.

The U.N. announced in December that Eide would not be renewing his contract. His time in Afghanistan has been marred by criticism of his effectiveness -- including how he handled last year's deeply flawed presidential election.

However, U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon praised Eide for "strong determination and selfless dedication" in remarks ahead of Eide's speech to the world body.

Mr. Ban said Afghanistan is at a "critical juncture" and the Afghan government must fulfill its pledges so that strategies put forward by the international community can be effective.

More than 100,000 foreign security forces are in Afghanistan as part as a NATO-led mission to fight a militant insurgency.