|Statement by Ambassador Wu Haitao at Security Council Briefing on Afghanistan|
On10 March, the crash of an Ethiopian Airlines plane resulted in the tragic deaths of more than 100 passengers and crew members, including Ethiopian and Chinese nationals and citizens of more than 30 countries, among them United Nations staff. China mourns the death of the victims and expresses deep condolences to their families.
I thank Special Representative of the Secretary-General Mr. Yamamoto for his briefing and I appreciate his efforts. I have listened carefully to the statements of the Afghan National Security Adviser, Mr. Hamdullah Mohib, and the civil society representative, Ms. Tapesh.
The situation in Afghanistan is now at a critical juncture, as the country has many important issues on its political agenda. At the same time, the country's security situation is a cause for concern and its humanitarian situation remains challenging. We hope that the country will achieve lasting peace and development, which are not only in the best interest of the Afghan people but also of regional security, stability, peace and prosperity. The international community should fulfil its commitment by continuing its strong support for Afghanistan.
First, we should promote political dialogue in the country. We call on all parties in Afghanistan to act for the country's greater benefit and to seize this significant opportunity for political reconciliation to embark on the path of development. The international community should support an Afghan-owned and Afghan-led and inclusive political process and assist the Government in developing a comprehensive, inclusive and realistic road map for political reconciliation, back the Government's efforts to promote political dialogue and encourage the Taliban to return to the negotiating table as soon as possible. It should also support international mechanisms such as the Kabul process and the Moscow format to that end.
Secondly, we should facilitate the successful holding of elections. Since the presidential election will be held this year, we hope that the new Independent Election Commission will scale up its preparation for that election. We also hope that the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) will provide technical support to the Commission. In addition, in the light of the developments on the ground, UNAMA should adjust its mandate. The Mission and other mechanisms should undertake a comprehensive and in-depth assessment of the country's reconstruction in the new conditions. All stakeholders across the political spectrum in Afghanistan should strengthen their unity, consider the maintenance of national political stability a shared responsibility and resolve their differences through dialogue.
Thirdly, the international community must help Afghanistan to improve its security environment. In 2018, fighting inside Afghanistan resulted in a record number of civilian casualties. Statistics from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime also show that drug production in the country remains high. The international community should strengthen cooperation so as to help the Afghan National Defence and Security Forces to build capacity. It should also assist the country in promoting alternative development activities, combating Afghan terrorists harboured by the Eastern Turkestan Islamic Movement terrorist organization and effectively overcoming such threats as terrorism, transnational crime and drug trafficking.
Fourthly, we must effectively help to improve the livelihoods of the Afghan people. In the past five years, there has been a significant increase in the number of people living in poverty in the country. The international community should continue to help the Government and the people of Afghanistan to improve their lives by honouring its assistance pledges, helping the country to fulfil its development potential and supporting its integration into regional economic cooperation. It should also assist the millions of drought-affected Afghans, improve the humanitarian situation of the Afghan refugees in the neighbouring countries and support their return to their homeland at an early date.
China has always supported the political process in Afghanistan and the early achievement of an inclusive political reconciliation. Through the Shanghai Cooperation Organization-Afghanistan Contact Group, the China-Afghanistan-Pakistan Foreign Ministers' dialogue and other multilateral mechanisms, China has always supported the political process and other areas of Afghanistan. Ambassador Deng Xijun, Special Envoy for Afghanistan of the Chinese Foreign Ministry, has participated in all relevant international conferences on Afghanistan, actively engaged with all sides and provided good offices, thereby contributing to the political process on China's behalf. China will continue its efforts and support the early resumption of the quadrilateral coordination group, comprising China, Afghanistan, Pakistan and the United States, to facilitate the Afghan peace and reconciliation process.
China actively supports Afghanistan's reconstruction and integration into regional economic development. Within the framework of the Belt and Road Initiative, China and Afghanistan have strengthened cooperation in all fields, including trade. The road transport corridors between the countries have been launched, with freight trains regularly traveling to Afghanistan. Direct flights and trains between the two countries have been operating steadily. China has provided humanitarian assistance in the amount of more than 60 million yuan renminbi to the drought-affected people in Afghanistan. The Red Cross Society of China launched an assistance programme for children with serious illnesses in Afghanistan. By the end of 2018, it had arranged for 100 children with congenital heart disease in Afghanistan to receive treatment in China, all of whom were cured and returned to the country.
China will continue to work with Afghanistan to actively implement the memorandum of understanding between the two countries on the joint promotion of the Belt and Road initiative and to promote strong cooperation in the areas of trade, energy, health care, fiber-optic cable communication, tax supervision, intellectual property rights, think tanks and other fields. China is ready to work with the international community to contribute to security, stability, development and prosperity in Afghanistan.
Thank you, Madam President.