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UN Says Afghanistan Faces Tense Security Situation

The top United Nations diplomat in Afghanistan says the country faces a tense security environment in the next few months.

Staffan de Mistura, the senior United Nations envoy in Afghanistan, told the U.N. Security Council that increased activities by Afghan and NATO-led forces are showing results. But at the same time, he said, there are signs that the anti-government forces in Afghanistan are attempting to carry out some spectacular attacks to counter a feeling that the momentum is changing.

"What does that mean? That we should be expecting and should be ready, I'm afraid, for the next few months for a tense security environment. In other words, our assessment is, before it gets better, it may get worse," Mistura said.

Afghanistan's ambassador to the United Nations, Zahir Tanin, told the Security Council that 2010 was an eventful and historic year in his country, pointing to several international conferences and Afghanistan's parliamentary elections in September. He said reconciliation will be pursued as a matter of high priority in Afghanistan. He added that for reconciliation to work, the Taliban must be ready to engage sincerely in peace talks. "But for reconciliation to succeed, the Taliban must put down their arms, renounce violence and choose the path for peace," he said.

During the Security Council's discussion of Afghanistan, the representative of the United States, Rosemary DiCarlo, said real progress has occurred during 2010. "Together with the Afghan national security forces we have broadly arrested the Taliban's momentum and even reversed it in some important areas. In many places, the gains we have made are still fragile and reversible. But we are unquestionably clearing more areas from Taliban control and more Afghans are reclaiming their communities," she said.

The U.S. speaker said 2011 will be a critical year in Afghanistan.