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    UN: Afghanistan at Crossroads

    Staff Sergeant Benjamin George, 26, of Kalihi, Hawaii, stands guard in a watchtower at Combat Outpost Pirtle King in Kunar province, Afghanistan, July 6, 2011
    Staff Sergeant Benjamin George, 26, of Kalihi, Hawaii, stands guard in a watchtower at Combat Outpost Pirtle King in Kunar province, Afghanistan, July 6, 2011

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    Larry Freund

    The top United Nations diplomat in Afghanistan said Wednesday that the country is at a crossroads as it begins taking on responsibility for its own security.

    The senior U.N. envoy in Afghanistan, Staffan de Mistura, told the U.N. Security Council that Afghanistan's transition is like a train that is on track and moving forward.

    "Transition cannot be and should not be only security," said de Mistura.  "It has to be something more.  It needs to be a transition to something that the Afghan people recognize and identify with.  That's why we are working together in order to ensure that the results of social, economic and, frankly, human rights aspects are linked to the transition."

    De Mistura added that the security situation in Afghanistan has been an issue of concern recently, with Taliban attacks on various sites, including a hospital and a major hotel in the capital.  But he noted that all of the attacks were responded to by the Afghan military and police.

    Afghanistan's U.N. representative, Zahir Tanin, told the Security Council that his country is at a "critical juncture."  He called the increase in Taliban attacks a conspicuously well-orchestrated attempt to incite fear among Afghans and hinder international support for his country.

    "Moreover, the recent campaign seeks to sabotage the future of peace talks and undermine the prospect of reconciliation," he said.  "Those who provide terrorists and extremists with money, arms and strategic guidance are equally responsible for the continued killing and brutal butchery of innocent civilians in Afghanistan."

    Regarding the decision of Afghanistan's special election court to call for the election results for 62 seats in the country's national assembly to be thrown out because of fraud, Ambassador Tanin said Afghanistan is not facing a constitutional crisis.  He told the Security Council that the Afghan government is committed to resolving the issue within the framework of a legal and political solution.

    U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice said Washington is consulting with Afghan officials and international partners on the election controversy.

    "We urge Afghanistan's political leaders and all Afghan institutions to act within their clearly defined areas of competence in accordance with the Afghan constitution and electoral law, preserving the necessary system of checks and balances between the judicial, executive and legislative branches," said Rice.

    Rice said it is important for Afghanistan's parliament to fulfill its constitutional role on behalf of the Afghan people.

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