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Afghan Leader Asks UN to Extend, Expand Mandate Of Peacekeepers - 2002-01-30

Hamid Karzai, the interim leader of Afghanistan has used his first address to the United Nations Security Council to call for an expanded multi-national force to be deployed in his country.

Hamid Karzai cited peace and security as the two most important priorities in the early days of his administration. Yet he recognized that the new Afghan government is not yet able to provide that security without help. In order to maintain it, he asked the world community to extend the mandate of the peacekeeping forces currently deployed in Afghanistan

"We are committed to creating the national institutions that would ensure the security of our people. Creation of a national police force and a national army however, will require some time. The extension of the presence of the multi-national force in Kabul and expanding their presence to other major cities will signal the ongoing commitment of the international community to peace and security in Afghanistan. We hope that you would authorize an extension and expansion of the mandate of these forces," he said

Mr. Karzai outlined a series of reforms his new government will seek to implement in the months and years ahead. He emphasized the need for the government to be accountable and transparent to the Afghan people and the international community. He also spoke of the need to rebuild the education system and provide more opportunities to young Afghan women. Mr. Karzai noted the drug problem in his country and stressed that his government is imposing a complete ban on the growing of poppy.

But he emphasized the desire for a country made safe by the presence of the international community.

"I have personally spoken to hundreds of delegates from different parts of Afghanistan. All of them have strongly expressed that security is the key issue. Thanks to this chamber's resolve and unity, multi-national forces have been deployed in the capital city Kabul. Our people look upon the presence of these forces as a sign of continued commitment of the international community to peace and security in Afghanistan," he said.

After addressing the world body, Mr. Karzai went to lower Manhattan to see for himself the devastation at the World Trade Center. He laid a wreath at the site of the September 11 terrorist attack and expressed condolences on behalf of all the Afghan people.