Press Releases

    SG/SM/8117
    SC/7296
    7 February 2002

    SECRETARY-GENERAL BRIEFS
    SECURITY COUNCIL ON ASIA TRIP

    NEW YORK, 6 February (UN Headquarters) -- Following is the text of the briefing given by Secretary-General Kofi Annan to the Security Council on 6 February concerning his trip to Japan, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran and Qatar:

    I am very happy to join you today. I have come to share some thoughts with you about my recent visit to Asia. If you agree, Mr. President, Mr. Brahimi will then provide a more detailed briefing on the situation on the ground in Afghanistan. My trip took me to Japan, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran and Qatar.

    In Japan, I met the Prime Minister and Foreign Minister and attended the International Conference on Reconstruction Assistance to Afghanistan.

    In Pakistan, I met with President Musharraf and Foreign Minister Sattar and attended the Pakistan Human Development Forum.

    In Afghanistan, I met with Chairman Karzai and members of the Interim Administration, as well as with representatives of civil society and women’s groups, and received a briefing from Major-General McColl of the International Security Assistance Force.

    In Iran, I met with Ayatollah Khamenei, the Supreme Leader, as well as with President Khatami, Foreign Minister Kharrazi and the Speaker of the Parliament.

    Finally, I met with the Amir of Qatar.

    The situation in Afghanistan was, of course, the main focus of my discussions.

    I was greatly encouraged by the Tokyo conference. Donors pledged more than $4.5 billion for five years, and expressed strong support for the political process emanating from the Bonn Agreement. Chairman Karzai stressed his firm commitment to transparency and accountability in the use of all aid, and made clear his understanding that the role of the international community is to help the Afghans help themselves. And I see Mrs. Ogata who chaired the meeting is with us this morning.

    At the same time, as we analyse the pledges, we can see some critical gaps. The conference focused on long-term needs, but the Afghan Interim Administration needs money today, for example to pay the salaries of public servants. Indeed, help is desperately needed right now. The international community must rise to the challenge today, and then stay engaged for the long haul.

    Security was the number one preoccupation of everyone we met in Afghanistan. Indeed, the security situation remains precarious. And without security, reconstruction will not be possible and donors will not be able to disburse the money they have so generously pledged.

    The second main concern was the need for the Interim Administration to have the resources to pay public servants. Without resources, the Administration will quickly lose credibility and will be unable to extend its authority elsewhere in the country, thereby undermining the chances of success of the longer-term peace process.

    Mr. Brahimi will brief you in greater detail about each of these issues.

    One key element in Afghanistan’s recovery will be the support of its neighbours. President Musharraf, for his part, was firm in his commitment to working with the Interim Administration and the United Nations. He invited Chairman Karzai and other members of the Interim Administration to visit Pakistan, and I conveyed this message to the Afghan authorities.

    President Musharraf also promised to take action against any Taliban or Al Qaeda personnel found in Pakistan, and to ensure that Pakistani territory would not be used by Afghans interested in subverting the central administration in Kabul. President Musharraf also made clear that a stable Afghanistan was in Pakistan’s national interest and that of the wider region.

    Iran, too, is committed to strengthening the authority of the Interim Administration. Iran, which like Pakistan has hosted many refugees for many years and has long had trade and other contacts with Afghanistan, also recognizes the national interest in a stable Afghanistan. The Iranian authorities also said they would not tolerate the presence of Taliban or Al Qaeda personnel on its territory.

    Both Iran and Pakistan pledged to work with each other, and with Afghanistan’s other neighbours, as we move ahead. Such a regional approach holds great promise, and I intend it to be a major pillar of United Nations strategy in confronting this challenge.

    In Islamabad, I also discussed relations between India and Pakistan.

    President Musharraf was very concerned about the military build-up, and expressed his readiness for dialogue. He also reiterated his commitment, made in his courageous speech of 12 January, to take strong measures against extremist armed groups.

    For my part, I stressed the need not only for immediate military de-escalation, but also for a sustained and determined dialogue aimed at resolving this situation so that there will not be another crisis in a few weeks’ or a few months’ time. Toward that end, I renewed my offer of good offices, should both parties wish to avail themselves of them.

    Another subject of great concern in Iran and Qatar, and in talks with Secretary Powell on the margins of the Tokyo conference, was the downward spiral of violence between Israelis and Palestinians.

    We need to find a way to get the parties back to the negotiating table, where all issues should be addressed —- terrorism as well as the occupation. Without this wider political context, and without some alleviation of the humanitarian plight of the Palestinians, I fear that progress will be nearly impossible and the risk of further violence all too great.

    Mr. Roed Larsen briefed you last week. I will continue doing my utmost to find new ways to break what is clearly a very dangerous impasse.

    I know you all look forward to hearing from Mr. Brahimi. He and his team have done remarkable work. Indeed, everywhere I went on this visit, United Nations staff were a constant source of inspiration. Despite extremely arduous conditions, their commitment is steadfast and the breadth of their work is truly breathtaking. They are playing a key role in helping the people of Afghanistan to seize this unique moment of opportunity, and they merit your continued support.

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