H.E. Ambassador Oh Joon, Deputy Permanent Representative, at Plenary of the General Assembly
1. At the outset, my delegation congratulates the government and people of Afghanistan on their successful parliamentary and provincial elections in September, which demonstrated their firm determination to achieve democracy, reconciliation and unity. We look forward to the establishment of the new parliament and the completion of the political process agreed in Bonn four years ago.
2. Alongside this political accomplishment, progress has been made in rebuilding Afghanistan’s security sector. The disarmament and demobilization programmes have been completed, while the reintegration programme is being implemented vigorously. In addition, a great number of new National Army soldiers and police officers have been trained. Also notable are the high economic growth rates in Afghanistan’s urban centres over the past three-and-a-half years.
3. Nevertheless, there are still many challenges to lasting stability and sustainable development. As is widely recognized, the two most important issues are security and drugs.
4. There is an urgent and critical need to ensure security in all parts of Afghanistan. In this regard, the Republic of Korea is deeply concerned about the recent deterioration of security in some areas of the country. There are still 1,800 illegal armed groups operating in Afghanistan, and violence has increased over the last several months. Furthermore, the insurgency has taken a more brutal turn of late, using more sophisticated weaponry, as seen in the recent suicide bombing attacks. In order to counter this trend and create a more secure environment, the ongoing reintegration programme must be accelerated, the remaining illegal armed groups must be disbanded, and the Afghan National Army and police forces must be strengthened in both quality and quantity.
5. As for the issue of drugs, we welcome the counter-narcotics measures recently taken by Kabul, which helped to reduce opium cultivation this year. However, the large-scale production and trafficking of narcotic drugs remain a serious concern. We encourage the Afghan government, in close cooperation with the international community, to step up its efforts to eradicate narcotics.
6. The successful elections in September and the conclusion of the Bonn process offer Afghanistan a historic opportunity for transition from decades of war and poverty to peace and prosperity. At this critical time and considering the ongoing challenges that Afghanistan faces, the international community’s engagement with the country needs to continue beyond the Bonn process. In this regard, we welcome the international conference on Afghanistan to be held in London early next year.
7. The Republic of Korea, having actively supported the stability and reconstruction of Afghanistan, is once again a co-sponsor of the draft resolution before us. Korea has continued with its commitment, providing medical and reconstruction units to Afghanistan since 2002 and contributing $57 million since 2001 for emergency relief, reconstruction and support of the elections held in September. We would like to reaffirm our unwavering support for the government and people of Afghanistan in their efforts to create a future full of hope and promise.