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Remarks by Ambassador Zhang Jun at the UN Security Council Briefing on UNAMA

2023-06-21 18:00

Madam President,

At the outset, I thank Special Representative Roza Otunbayeva and Ms. Shabana Basij-Rasikh for their briefings just now.

Afghanistan is at a critical phase of transitioning from chaos to order, and needs the continued input and attention from the international community and the United Nations. In light of the current situation, I wish to stress four points.

First, dialogue and engagement must be maintained. Engaging the Afghan interim government with a practical attitude is the fundamental way towards enhanced understanding and mutual trust and addressing relevant concerns. We are pleased to see that Afghanistan’s neighbors and countries in the surrounding area have always been at the forefront in this regard. Since September 2021, the neighboring countries of Afghanistan have already held four meetings of foreign ministers, the latest of which was held in Samarkand, Uzbekistan on April 13. On May 6, China, Afghanistan, and Pakistan relaunched the foreign ministers dialogue in Islamabad. Presided over by Secretary-General Guterres, the meeting of special representatives on the Afghan issue was held in Doha on May 2. Generally speaking, the international community does have consensus on building an Afghanistan that is peaceful, stable, and prosperous, and hopes to resort to dialogue and engagement to help the Afghan interim government build political inclusivity, govern with moderation, and build an open and inclusive political architecture. We hope that the Afghan interim government will make positive efforts in the interest of the Afghan people, meet the expectations of the international community, and realize independent and effective state governance, including effectively ensuring the rights of women to education and employment.

To promote dialogue and engagement, It is necessary for the Security Council sanctions committee to make a package of exemption arrangements for the international travel of relevant personnel of the Afghan interim government. The sanctions measures imposed on the relevant personnel by the Council in line with Resolution 1988 should also be adjusted or lifted in light of the development of the situation in a timely manner.

Second, security and stability must be upheld. Terrorist attacks still continue to take place in Afghanistan, reminding us that terrorism remains a major challenge facing the country. Terrorist forces including ISIL-K, Al Qaeda and ETIM, which is also known as the so-called Turkistan Islamic Party, among others, are colluding with each other and jeopardizing the security of the country, the region, and the world at large. We hope the Afghan authorities will take firm and strong measures to combat all terrorism and to prevent Afghanistan from becoming again a center of gravity for terrorism. Drugs transactions could be a major source of terrorist financing. We note with appreciation that Afghanistan's area of opium cultivation has dropped significantly this year. The international community should provide Afghanistan with support and help it develop alternative cultivation, improve the economic structure, and curb the space for terrorist forces to exist.

Third, socioeconomic development must be promoted. The Afghan authorities value economic development and the national income has remained stable with some increase. Yet easing the humanitarian crisis remains the most urgent priority at present. This year's UN humanitarian response plan for Afghanistan is only 9% funded still now, with the gap exceeding four billion dollars. We call upon traditional donors to continue providing Afghanistan with humanitarian assistance and keep the UN's humanitarian operations functioning normally in the country. It is unacceptable for developed donors to significantly cut their aid to Afghanistan and to link humanitarian aid to other issues. In the long run, the international community should go beyond humanitarian aid, and offer more help for Afghanistan to integrate into regional economic and trade cooperation and to embark on a path of economic independence and sustainable development.

Fourth, external constraints must be removed. Due to the impact of unilateral sanctions from food, drinking water, medicines, and other necessities to cement, reinforced steel bars, and other construction materials, Afghanistan is facing serious shortages in supplies and even more difficulties in its economic reconstruction. We urge relevant countries to lift unilateral sanctions on Afghanistan. Particularly concerning is the fact that since 2021, seven billion dollar of Afghanistan's overseas assets has been frozen by the US. Until this day, not a cent has been returned into the hands of the Afghan people. We urge the US to promptly return the assets concerned. The US must not delay this under various pretexts and aggravate the sufferings of the Afghan people. We request the UN Secretary-General to pay attention to this and request the SRSG to step up efforts and report to the Council on the relevant development in a timely manner.

China, as Afghanistan's neighbor, has always followed and cared for the situation in Afghanistan, and not long ago, we issued China's position on the Afghan issue. China will continue to provide help to the best of its ability to Afghanistan's reconstruction and development, and looks forward to the early achievement of peace, stability, and prosperity in Afghanistan.

Thank you, Madam President.

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