x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

UN chief to appeal for reconciliation

The UN chief Ban Ki-moon will bring a message that reconciliation between Afghanistan's warring forces is "unavoidable and inevitable".

NEW YORK // The UN chief Ban Ki-moon will bring a message that reconciliation between Afghanistan's warring forces is "unavoidable and inevitable" at the start of the nation's first high level meeting on home turf since the fall of the Taliban. The secretary general will "appeal to the Afghan people to come together to achieve peace through reconciliation and build a future based on economic development and mutual co-operation", Mr Ban's spokesman, Martin Nesirky, said yesterday.

The Kabul conference, co-chaired by Mr Ban and President Hamid Karzai, is aimed at securing foreign aid pledges and putting Afghan officials in the driving seat of a reconstruction plan that they have designed and will administer. The one-day meeting comes as Nato and Afghan forces are moving into areas controlled by the hardline Taliban, and western officials are debating whether bringing insurgents into Afghan politics will bring an end to the violence.

During meetings with Mr Karzai and others, Mr Ban will argue that reconciliation between the government and some elements of the Taliban is "indispensible, unavoidable and inevitable", Mr Nesirky said. "It is the form that it takes that is obviously very important here - and that means those insurgents ... who are to take part in the reconciliation process need to make sure that they adhere to the constitution, to forswear violence and lay down their arms," he added.

Before the summit, the charity group Oxfam released a report urging world leaders to tackle the root causes of poverty in Afghanistan, and make sure this conference is a "turning point, not another wasted opportunity". The document, Promises Promises, says Afghanistan has received more than US$40 billion (Dh146.8bn) over the past nine years, yet millions of Afghans still languish in poverty and endure a security situation which is worse than at any point since the fall of the Taliban.

@Email:jreinl@thenational.ae