U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan has delivered a report to the Security Council detailing his recent trip to Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran and other nations.
Mr. Annan's speech focused on efforts to strengthen the interim government in Afghanistan. He said recent aid pledges from nations around the world must be delivered immediately so the new administration can begin implementing much needed reforms.
The Secretary-General also placed considerable emphasis on the issue of security, saying all other reforms depend on it. "Security was the number one preoccupation of everyone we met in Afghanistan," he said. "Indeed, the security situation remains precarious. And without security, reconstruction will not be possible and donors will not be able to disperse the money they have so generously pledged." Mr. Annan also touched on several other pressing issues. He described talks with Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf, and said they discussed rising tensions between Pakistan and India. According to Mr. Annan, Mr. Musharraf showed a willingness to resume diplomatic discussions over the status of Kashmir.
Secretary-General Annan also referred to the ongoing violence between Israelis and Palestinians. He said many world leaders he consulted on his trip, including the President of Iran and Secretary of State Colin Powell, expressed hope that peace talks can be resumed. "We need to find a way to get the parties back to the negotiating table where all issues can be addressed, terrorism as well as the occupation," said Kofi Annan. "Without this wider political context, and without some alleviation of the humanitarian plight of the Palestinians, I fear that progress will be nearly impossible, and the risk of further violence all too great. Mr. Annan said he would continue to do his utmost to resolve what he called the "impasse" between the Israelis and Palestinians.