Just hours before President Barack Obama formally announces the United States` strategy for Afghanistan, the top United Nations envoy there today underscored the need for a long-term commitment from the international community for the country, stressing that now is not the time to talk about an exit strategy.
I think we should talk about transition strategy, which is something completely different, " the Secretary-General`s Special Representative for Afghanistan, Kai Eide, told reporters in the capital, Kabul.
Mr. Eide, who also heads the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), said vital to a transition strategy " is the building up of Afghan institutions, which can help to ensure the sustainability of gains made.
It really means pushing more and more responsibilities on to the Afghan authorities, allowing them to take more responsibilities, " he stated, adding that Mr. Obama might also be thinking about the same strategy.
If we are to deliver services to the people, it can`t be done by international parallel structures. It has to be done by Afghan institutions. That`s going to take time, but the longer we wait the more time it will take. "
The Special Representative said that the next five to six months can give us a momentum that has been lost during the election process, " and the international community has to re-assert " a long-term commitment to Afghanistan that can aid efforts to achieve peace and development.
That long-term commitment depends on a high degree of confidence and trust between the Government and the international community, " he noted.
The way forward between Afghanistan and its international partners will be among the issues discussed at a conference to be convened on 28 January in London. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has welcomed the upcoming gathering, and a further high-level conference to be convened in Kabul a few months later, as opportunities to discuss the country`s agenda in the wake of its recent presidential elections.
These conferences would thus constitute defining moments in the reconfiguration of the relationship between Afghanistan and the international community, " he said in a statement issued on Saturday.