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Iran concerned over security situation in Afghanistan

UN HQ, New York, Nov 6, IRNA - Iran's permanent UN envoy Mohammad Khazaee here on Monday voiced concern over security situation in Afghanistan and the growing threat of opium production in and drug trafficking from the country.

Khazaee voiced the concern on Iran's behalf at the 62nd UN General Assembly Session on "The Situation in Afghanistan" in New York on November 5, 2007.

The following is the full text of the Iranian envoy's speech in the UN meeting:

"In the Name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful

"Mr. President,

"May I begin by extending our gratitude to the Secretary General for his comprehensive reports on various aspects of the situation in Afghanistan, and thanking him and his Special Representative as well as all their colleagues in UNAMA for their unwavering commitment and commendable dedication to the consolidation of peace and stability in Afghanistan. We continue to stress on, and support, the central and essential role that the United Nations is playing in Afghanistan.

"Mr. President,

"In the past several years, through taking various steps in establishing democratic institutions and a vibrant political system, the Afghan people, led by President Karzai, have demonstrated their firm commitment towards a stable and democratic future.

"Moreover, the most recent report of the Secretary General on Afghanistan highlights a number of promising improvements in the economic and social fields. This, particularly, includes valuable accomplishments with regard to economic growth, education, health, building infrastructure and rural development. We commend the Afghans for these remarkable achievements and reassure them of the continuation of our full support for their endeavors to rebuild their country.

"Despite these remarkable accomplishments, much remains to be done. As indicated by the Secretary General in his report, the security situation in the country and the threat of opium production and drug trafficking have increased and continue to be of grave concern.

"Increased terrorist attacks and violence in certain parts of Afghanistan, caused by Al-Qaeda, the Taliban and other criminal and terrorist groups, coupled with a pervasive drug economy and the increase in the production and trafficking of narcotic drugs have created alarming challenges that seriously undermine the security of the country and beyond.

"As an immediate neighbor of Afghanistan, the Islamic Republic of Iran has a vital interest in a stable, secure and prosperous Afghanistan and in an Afghanistan free from terrorism and extremism.

"Iran has always been unequivocal in its condemnation of the heinous terrorist acts committed in Afghanistan and has extended its full support to the efforts of the Afghan Government to improve the security and economic situation in the country. We believe that the increase in insecurity in Afghanistan and recent increased terrorist activities well suggest that the unwarranted attempts made by certain foreign powers in Afghanistan to appease some terrorist groups have proved to be wrong and counterproductive.

"Undoubtedly, to address the insecurity in Afghanistan, full national ownership of Afghans over the security of their country should be expedited. This can be done through, inter alia, strengthening the autonomy and integrity of the Afghan national security forces, and increasing home-grown security. Reconstruction of infrastructures, capacity-building and utilizing regional potentials for the reconstruction of the country can also contribute to the improvement of the situation in Afghanistan.

"Mr. President,

"Unfortunately, with producing 93 percent of the world's opiates, Afghanistan is experiencing the biggest opium harvest in its history.

The cultivation, production of, and trafficking in narcotic drugs in Afghanistan, which adversely affect that country's economic reconstruction and undermine its stability and security along with that of the wider region, especially neighboring countries, continue unabated.

"In our view, the impact of a pervasive drug economy on the security, rehabilitation and reconstruction of Afghanistan and the fact that terrorism and insurgency feed on drug production and trafficking, should always be kept in sight in all efforts to address the security situation and reconstruction of Afghanistan.

"Combating this menace requires a long-term and multifaceted strategy and more serious efforts by Afghanistan and the international community. Indeed, the present situation attests to the bitter fact that the international community has not been so far successful in curbing the scourge of narcotic drugs in Afghanistan, and those foreign forces in the country that have been entrusted with certain responsibilities in this regard, have not fulfilled their task satisfactorily.

"The Islamic Republic of Iran has fought a costly and deadly war against heavily armed drug traffickers, almost single-handedly. Over the past 25 years, we have lost about 4000 of our great and brave law enforcement personnel who have sacrificed their lives to fight this vicious threat. We continue to be resolute at the forefront of the world-wide war against drug traffickers, and encourage others to join us in this important fight in order to save our present as well as future generations from the devastating impacts of this calamity.

"Mr. President,

"By pledging half a billion dollars in grants and credit to the reconstruction of Afghanistan, Iran has been actively participating in the country's reconstruction. We have been engaged in various infrastructure activities in Afghanistan, including in road construction, manpower training, electricity projects, humanitarian services and many other projects. Moreover, we have just started our second phase of developmental assistance to Afghanistan, amounting to $50 million, at a demanding time, while several important agreements, including a general agreement on bilateral cooperation and on capacity building of Afghan ministries, were also signed between the two countries during our President's visit to Kabul in August 2007.

"Furthermore, Iran has endured huge costs during the past three decades by hosting almost 3 million Afghan brothers and sisters as refugees. We earnestly hope that the conditions in Afghanistan would facilitate the voluntary repatriation of Afghan refugees to their home country in a more timely and promising manner.

"Before concluding, Mr. President, allow me to thank the delegation of Germany for their efforts in the negotiating process of the draft resolution at hand.

"Thank you Mr. President."

... Payvand News - 11/06/07 ... --

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