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                                        Volume. 11735

Iran calls for a halt to attacks on Afghan civilians
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c_330_235_16777215_0___images_stories_edim_02_ep4(79).jpgTEHRAN – Iran is concerned about the increase in the loss of lives and injuries inflicted upon Afghan civilians and believes that the attacks on civilians under whatever pretexts and by whoever is condemnable and must be halted, Iran’s deputy ambassador to the United Nations said on Thursday. 
 
Ambassador Gholam Hossein Dehghani made the remarks in a statement on “The Situation in Afghanistan”, which was read out before the Security Council.  
 
Following are excerpts of the text of the statement: 
 
1- Afghanistan is undergoing very sensitive juncture in its history. There is an intense focus on issues such as the security and political transitions that will culminate in 2014 with the end of the presence of International Forces and the upcoming presidential election. We hope with the efforts of Afghan Government and the United Nations this process would lead to better preserving and strengthening peace, stability, and security in Afghanistan and the region. In this regard we support the regional mechanisms including the Istanbul Process on Regional Security and Cooperation for a Secure and Stable Afghanistan and implementation of plans for six confidence-building measures as defined for this process. 
 
2- In the area of regional cooperation, the neighboring countries of Afghanistan share critical interests in Afghanistan’s security and long-term stability and should play their role in promoting Afghanistan’s socio-economic development. Obviously the prospects of a stable and economically flourishing Afghanistan would be ideal situation to its neighbors and the wider region. The continuing engagement between Afghanistan and its neighbors and regional partners in the areas of trade, economic exchanges, and developmental projects must be supported. In this regard, we have continued our bilateral cooperation, particularly on security matters, counter-narcotics efforts, developing projects and economic cooperation in the fields of roads, rails, energy, mining and minerals‚ agriculture etc.
 
3- On the return of refugees a tripartite meeting between Iran, Afghanistan, and UNHCR was held in Tehran from 15 to 16 January this year. In this meeting we presented ways and means to encourage more safe and sustainable return of refugees and a number of agreements were concluded. We look forward to full implementation of those agreements. We also welcome the agreement between the United Nations and the Government of Afghanistan on 31 March 2013 in setting up a team to seek joint solutions and integrated approaches for refugees. We urge the international community, to continue to strengthen and expedite its efforts in creating the conditions conducive for the sustainable repatriation of refugees and their full rehabilitation and reintegration in their homeland.
 
4- We welcome the beginning of the international military drawdown and look forward for the completion of this process. However we are concerned about the increase in the loss of lives and injuries inflicted upon Afghan civilians; part of which has been caused by military operations of the international forces in Afghanistan. As indicated in the report of the Secretary General from 1 February to 30 April 2013, 533 civilian deaths and 882 civilian injuries was documented by UNAMA. This show an increase of 44 percent in the deaths and 16 percent in the civilian injuries. The attacks on civilians under whatever pretexts and by whoever is condemnable and must be halted. 
 
5- We are concerned about the prediction as reflected in the 2013 Opium Risk Assessment regarding the possible increase in opium poppy cultivation particularly in north and north-east of Afghanistan.  As indicated in the report if current trends continue, the total number of opium poppy-free provinces in 2013 would drop to 14, down from 17 in 2012 and 20 in 2010. We are sure that with strong commitment of both Afghan and international partners the menace of drug cultivation and drug trafficking that breed extremism would be curtailed. We commend the initiatives by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and Afghan authorities particularly those relating to the elimination of opium cultivation fields.  
 
6- We support UNAMA as well as UN agencies in fulfilling their mission for providing assistance to peace, stability, and reconstruction of Afghanistan through a robust regional engagement on issues such as border security, immigration, return of refugees, and drug control measures. The role of UNAMA should evolve on the basis of the situation on the ground, emerging realities and, above all, the aspirations of the people and the Government of Afghanistan. The future role of the United Nations in Afghanistan is going to be very important, especially in the wake of the drawdown and withdrawal of international forces in 2014. As our official indicated in their meeting with Mr. Jan Kubis during his recent visit to Tehran, we support UNAMA activities and wish Mr. Kubis all success in fulfilling his mission.  
 
EP/PA 

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