UNSC delegation makes 1st Afghan visit in 8 years to assess situation

Kabul, Jan 16: A delegation of the United Nations Security Council on Monday concluded a three-day visit to Kabul, the first such mission in eight years, to meet the Afghan President and the Chief Executive, and assess the country's efforts to start a viable peace process, according to a report released by the UN.

The group, formed by representatives of the 15 member countries of the council and led by Kazakhstan's Ambassador to the UN and the current UNSC President Kairat Umarov, met military and political leaders and activists between January 13-15 in order to understand the political, security, socio-economic and human rights situation in the country, Efe news agency reported.

"All parties underlined the importance of an inclusive Afghan-led and -owned peace process for long-term stability and prosperity in Afghanistan, and Council members renewed their commitment to support efforts that aim at bringing peace and reconciliation," the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan said in its statement.

UNAMA said that the visit came ahead of a meeting next month of the Kabul Process, which was launched last year by the Afghan government with the support of the international community to initiate a peace process with Islamist militants after a bomb was detonated in central Kabul, killing over 150 people and leaving 413 injured, the deadliest terror attack in the Afghan capital on record.

The UN delegation met President Ashraf Ghani and Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah and expressed their concerns about the security situation in the country, including the presence of the Taliban and the terror groups such as Al Qaeda and the Islamic State.

They also discussed Pakistan's role in Afghanistan in the meeting with Ghani, after the US suspended security aid to Pakistan earlier this month due to a perceived lack of action against terror groups.

The Office of the President of Afghanistan said in a statement that regional cooperation was discussed in the meeting, and urged participants to raise pressure on Pakistan while increasing peace efforts.

The Taliban has exploited the instability to gain territory in Afghanistan after the end of NATO's combat mission in the country on January 1, 2015 and the withdrawal of foreign troops.

Since the end of the combat mission, the government has been steadily losing ground to insurgents and now controls only 57 percent of the country, according to the US Special Inspector General for Reconstruction of Afghanistan. 

Source: IANS