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Embassy of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan participates in Society Magazine’s ‘Great Silk Road Event’

Vienna, 10.03.2016

On March 10th, the Embassy and Permanent Mission of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan in Vienna participated in the SOCIETY magazine’s ‘Great Silk Road Event’ at the Hotel Imperial. Several embassies of the countries from the historic Silk Road displayed handicrafts, cultural items and business information about their countries. Participating embassies included Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, China, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Kazakhstan, Russia, Syria, Turkey, and Uzbekistan. The Embassy of Afghanistan displayed handicrafts including rugs, fabric, and jewelery amongst other items to demonstrate the richness of the art and culture of Afghanistan. During the opening of the event, Mr. Hassan Soroosh, Charge d’Affaires a.i., spoke about the importance of this event in displaying common heritage and in the meantime the richness of the diverse cultures in the great Silk Road region, which is reflective of centuries of trade, interactions and heritage. He also noted that the event provides an opportunity to further the relations between the countries along the historical Silk Road so that common challenges and issues facing the region can be better addressed.

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 (below photo credited to SOCIETY magazine)083Mikes

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The Delegation of Afghanistan Attend the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly Winter Session

 

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Vienna, 26.02.2016

From February 25 – 26, 2016 the Organization for Security and Co-Operation in Europe Parliamentary Assembly held the 15th Winter Meeting at the Hofburg Congress Centre in Vienna. In attendance to the meetings on behalf of the National Assembly of Afghanistan were Mr. Haji Mohammad Abduh and  Mr. Fazil Azim Mujadidi, members of the Lower House of Afghanistan and Ms. Amena Afzali and  Ms. Aziza Musleh from the Upper House. During the session of the General Committee on Political Affairs and Security, the delegation of Afghanistan delivered a statement on the importance of counter terrorism efforts. It was noted that as terrorist networks are interconnected at both regional and international levels, it must be addressed through coordinated, collective and sustained efforts at all levels, including a special focus on countering the financing of terrorism and dismantling safe haven for terrorists. It was also stated that Afghanistan remains grateful for the invaluable support received from regional and international partners, particularly the OSCE Participating States and Partners for Co-Operation and that the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly is particularly well placed to provide a good platform for parliamentarians across the OSCE region to discuss and collaborate on counter terrorism efforts.

A statement was also shared on the second day by the delegation of Afghanistan at the Joint Session of the three General Committees. The statement included an overview of the progress made in Afghanistan in the post-Taliban period for improving the situation of women in Afghanistan as well as the importance of the current constitution which established equal rights and access to justice for all citizens. Further achievements include the establishment of the Ministry of Women’s Affairs and the National Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security. The statement noted that while there is still much progress to be made towards the full realization of women’s rights in the country, the National Assembly of Afghanistan is committed to taking an active role in overcoming challenges. The importance of the support of the OSCE Parliamentary for providing a greater opportunity for the exchange of views and experiences was also highlighted in the statement.

During the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly, the delegation of Afghanistan held several bilateral meetings, including with the President of the OSCE PA, Mr. Ilkka Kanerva and one of the Vice-Presidents, Ms. Christine Muttonen. In addition to this, the delegation met with a Member of Parliament of the Austrian Lower House, Ms. Gisela Wurm, who chairs the Gender Equality Committee. The delegation also had the opportunity to meet with the OSCE Secretary General, Ambassador Lamberto Zannier, as well as the OSCE Parliamentary Special Representative on Gender Issues, Dr. Hedy Fry.

Further information on the session can be found here.

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Transcript of Remarks Delivered by H.E. Mohammad Ashraf Ghani, President of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan At the Munich Security Conference 2016

Munich, 12.02.2016

سخنرانی در کنفرانس (9)

In the name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful.

Ambassador Ischinger, Minister Von Der Leyen, Ladies and Gentlemen.

Let me first deal with context. We are confronting the fifth wave of political violence in a symmetric war in 140 years. Anarchism was the first wave; national self-determination was the second wave; New Left in Japan, Europe, and the United States was the third wave; Jihad against the Soviet Union and struggle in Sri Lanka started the fourth wave; the post-9/11 terrorism constitutes the fifth wave. A narrative combining epistemology, history, and teleology matched by utilization of the information technology of the fourth industrial revolution is translated into a distinct ecology, morphology, and pathology of violence. Our knowledge and response are both fragmented as we are struggling between naming the phenomena, knowing it, and having an action plan on the basis of an aligned strategy to disrupt, overcome, and destroy the fifth wave of terrorism. Symptoms are often addressed, causes are rarely confronted. Voices of analysis are not followed and there’s no common framework. Without a common framework on intelligence that drives use of force, we keep repeating mistakes. While the enemy learns fast, we are slow to adapting. From seeking ungoverned space, the aim of the fifth wave is to establish territories of terror.

My second point is on dimensions and drivers of conflict. I am focusing here on Afghanistan as an illustration. Often times the war is described as a civil war, it is not. First, we have a regional and global conflict. Every country in the region has been exporting its misfits to us; China, Russia, the ‘Stans, particularly and Pakistan, and others. Second is Daesh. When we warned against Daesh, particularly in this conference last year, it was greeted as a way that I wanted to attract attention to Afghanistan. Today, I hope nobody is in denial.

Third, Al-Qaeda: Al-Qaeda is not finished. At a time when we have focused on Daesh’s threat, I hope to God I am wrong, Al- Qaeda has regrouped. And, now we need to deal with a renewed Al-Qaeda threat. The Tehrik-e- Taliban of Pakistan, the Haqqani networks, and others are common threats but, what’s the platform? The criminal economy provides the common platform for all these movements. Narcotics and refugees, smuggling are part of the same network. Unless we focus on the soft belly of globalization, which is the $ 1.7 trillion of criminal economy, we will be addressing only part of the problem, not all of it.

There’s the additional problem. State sponsorship of malign non-state actors continues. Worse, some states behave like non-state actors and this is, of course, driven by the failure to agree and act on rules of the game. All of this combines to have a displacement effect. We address the problem in one part, it results in displacement of the phenomena in the other. And what, from an Afghan and regional perspective, particularly needs attention: action in Syria and Iraq against Daesh is likely to displace it geographically and spatially. We need to define the boundaries of this ecology carefully. Otherwise, we will be missing a significant part of the solution.

Ambassador Ischinger described 2016 as bleak. From an Afghan perspective, I’d like to describe it as one of cautious optimism. I think everybody, in a bleak forecast, needs a ray of hope. An aligned strategy requires, simultaneously, preferably coordinated action in five levels: Global, Islamic, Regional, National, and Sub-national. So, why the good news? First, I’d like to express gratitude to President Obama, Chancellor Merkel, Prime Minister Cameron, Prime Minister Renzi, leaders of 40 countries that have agreed to renew the Resolute Support Mission in support of Afghanistan. NATO, ladies and gentlemen, is fully alive and willing to act responsibly. I’d like to extend a very big thank you to NATO, to its Secretary-General, and to the entire organization. Second, regional support: We have worked very actively with China, with Central Asian states—Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan, in particular—India, Iran, Russia, and Turkey through bilateral and multilateral mechanisms. We’re in the process of creating an emerging consensus that, a stable of stable Afghanistan that can tackle the actors and drivers of instability, is in everybody’s benefit. This requires continuous work and because of that, bilateral, trilateral, and multilateral mechanisms all need to be supported but key to this is, the country wants this has to take ownership of the process and not just wait that others act on good will.

On the Islamic dimension, the Mecca Declaration against terrorism is a very, very significant development. For the first time, Muslim scholars are confronting the problem, naming it, and simultaneously exposing the fundamental weaknesses of governance. I hope that this declaration is matched with coherent action and coordination. What is fundamental from an Islamic perspective is who claims to speak for the Islamic civilization, culture, and history. Islamic civilization is a grand synthesis. When we measured the circumference of the Earth, the rest of the world didn’t know that the World was round and that was a thousand years ago. We need claim back our heritage and create a vibrant and comprehensive debate among ourselves so we can work.

The other dimension is national. In here, our emphasis is, first of all, to acknowledge our problems. A country that has inherited the mantle of being, the dishonor of being, among the ten most corrupt countries does not have the right to speak for itself unless it addresses its fundamental corruption. A country that has 41% of its people living below poverty must bear the shame. A country that cannot empower its women, youth, and the poor must bear the responsibility for addressing the fundamentals. So, as a result, we need to get the politics right. It is the politics of empowerment; it’s the politics of creating citizens, and turning the state into an instrument for the realization of the rights and obligations of the citizens.

We are working a compact with our citizens and are in the process—a very difficult process, no doubt—of turning the state into an instrument of the realization of the hopes and aspirations of our citizens. Second is mobilizing for security. Security is not about use of force alone. Every problem is not a nail to be hit with a hammer. A multi-dimensional approach where we take governance, and that’s where sub-national issues come to the front, I’m delighted that we have pioneered for the first time in a couple of hundred years a balance between our governors and cabinet and created written compacts with every single province to I can preside of mechanisms of delivery.

But on Daesh, again, we are very grateful and proud that our partners have agreed now to target Daesh like Al-Qaeda. In the last month, we’ve silenced the voice of Daesh to its radio in one of the most remote mountains of Afghanistan, they are on the run. They’ve lost 150 people but what makes us particularly hopeful, 750 retired Afghan Army officers, all commandos, enlisted in a single day to take on Daesh. Their atrocities have brought back a reversal at the level of narrative that now has resulted in significant mobilization in Eastern Afghanistan, and that’s the key. When people mobilize to tackle terror, it’s a very different approach than when guns alone are used. When people ask for simultaneous use of air power with ground mobilization in a will to push them out, that’s the key to success. Equally, because we have been speaking about refugees and the Minister named us, pull and push factors both need to be addressed.

A country with a 41% rate of poverty forced into a significant recession bordering on a depression and networked globally will produce refugees. We must analyze the root causes and create the condition for stability. The current economic recipes of global institutions for fragile states are not working. If Europe does not want refugees, it has to create the conditions for getting commodities and value chains and linkages. Our people don’t want to move but we need to create the opportunities and it must be on the basis of a just society, where foreign assistance is used to create opportunities and not enrich a few. And, this is key to the public. Because of this, the public must be put first because what makes us trust in the future is our resilience. We have coped with earlier waves of violence, our historic resilience gives us the confidence that will overcome the fifth wave. Second is our latent resources. We are an extraordinarily rich country inhabited by extraordinarily poor people. It has to be reversed. And, our partnership—now based on mutual values, accountability, and mutual trust—should provide a platform for an aligned strategy. We invite governments, firms, and global civil society to join us in deploying the tools of great imagination and creativity to overcome the fifth wave of violence.

Thank you.

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Source: http://president.gov.af/en/news/transcript-of-remarks-delivered-by-he-mohammad-ashraf-ghani-president-of-the-islamic-republic-of-afghanistan-at-the-munich-security-conference-2016

Minister of Foreign Affairs of Afghanistan receives Ambassadors of European Countries to Kabul

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Kabul, 08.02.2016

H.E. Minister of Foreign Affairs, Salahuddin Rabbani, met this afternoon at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs with the Ambassadors of Britain, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Spain and Sweden; the Chargé d’Affaires of Norway; and the Deputy Representative of the European Union and the representative of the European Union Police in Afghanistan.

Pointing to the Afghan peace talks, the Minister of Foreign Affairs said, “As a result of three meetings of the Quadrilateral Coordination Group (QCG) of Afghanistan, Pakistan, the United States and China, the road map of Afghan peace talks has been completed and agreed by the four members. The fourth meeting of (QCG) will be convened on February 23, 2016 in Kabul.”

On commencement of direct talks between the Afg
han government and the Taliban, Minister Rabbani added that based on the decision of (QCG), it is expected that by the end of February this year the date for direct talks will be determined and announced.

While talking on issues of Afghan refugees in the European countries as well as discussions with European Unions and its members, Minister Rabbani added, “The Afghan government wants to reach a comprehensive understanding with European countries before the Brussels and Warsaw meetings.”

Minister Rabbani also added that the Afghan government is seeking support from European countries towards implementing its programs to stop migrants and pave the ground for those who wish to return voluntarily to the country.

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Mr. Hassan Soroosh, Counselor and Chargé d’Affaires a.i., Chairs Session on ‘Women, Peace and Security’ during ACUNS Conference

Vienna, 14.01.2016

From January 13-15, 2016 the Academic Council on the United Nations System (ACUNS) held a conference on “New Approaches for a Peaceful and More Sustainable World”. On the second day of the conference, Mr. Hassan Soroosh chaired a session on “Women, Peace and Security” where speakers from various international organizations and NGOs discussed the progress made and challenges faced in the implementation of the UN Security Council Resolution 1325. Mr. Soroosh opened the discussion by noting the considerable efforts undertaken across the world including the creation of National Action Plans by many countries as well as various initiatives undertaken across the UN System and beyond to meet the main goals of ‘Prevention, Protection, Participation and Peace Building and Recovery’. During interventions by the speakers of this session, the common idea throughout was a call for the increase in the participation and empowerment of women in peace building and post-conflict recovery as women are a critical for the development of lasting peace. Participants in the audience raised questions including on how to achieve gender balance and what strategies could be applied. Mr. Soroosh closed the session by thanking the speakers for their valuable contributions during the session as well as the participants for their interest in how to further the involvement of women in peace and security efforts.

The conference agenda can be found here.

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H.E. Minister Azimi and Deputy Minister Ahmadi attend high level meetings in Vienna

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Vienna, 18.12.2015

H.E. Mrs. Salamat Azimi, Minister of Counter Narcotics of Afghanistan, along with Deputy Minister Baz Mohammad Ahmadi of the Ministry of Interior of Afghanistan and the delegation, attended several keys meetings in Vienna from December 14 – 18, 2015. On Monday, December 14, H.E. Minister Azimi and the delegation participated in the High-Level Meeting of Partners for Afghanistan and Neighboring Countries. The meeting was aimed at presenting strategic directives on counter narcotics efforts in Afghanistan and neighboring countries as well as perspectives from the region and international partners on how to further coordinate and strengthen such efforts in the future. Minister Azimi as co-chair of the meeting, delivered an opening statement focusing on the new National Drug Action Plan of Afghanistan. Other co-chairs were Mr. Yury Fedotov, UNODC Executive Director, and Mr. Nicholas Haysom, UN Special Representative of the Secretary General for Afghanistan and Head of UNAMA. H.E. Minister Azimi also had a short statement at the Closing Session of the High-level Meeting which was moderated by Mr. Hassan Soroosh, Counselor of the Permanent Mission of Afghanistan in Vienna. Another member of the delegation, Ms. Fareshta Sakhi, Director General of Border Affairs and Security Cooperation of MOFA read out the Concluding Statement on behalf of the co-chairs.

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From December 15 – 16, the delegation of Afghanistan attended the Paris Pact 12th Policy Consultative Group Meeting where H.E. Minister Azimi delivered an opening statement which included an overview of the efforts and achievements made in counter narcotics as well as the challenges that Afghanistan is facing in this area. Deputy Minister Ahmadi delivered a closing statement on the second and final day of the Paris Pact meeting on December 16 and provided a detailed overview of law enforcement measures related to counter narcotics and highlighted a number of key achievements and challenges along with concrete operational recommendations. Mr. Humayoun Faizzad, Director General of Provincial Affairs at the Ministry of Counter Narcotics of Afghanistan also had a presentation on the new National Drug Action Plan of Afghanistan.

During the course of the week, bilateral meetings were held between the delegation of Afghanistan and the delegations of Germany, Iran, Turkey and the United States of America, where the prospects of counter narcotics efforts in Afghanistan including under the new Action Plan as well as ways to support these efforts at all bilateral, regional and international levels was discussed. The delegation also had a brief meeting with the chair of the UNGASS Board discussing the preparatory process as well as topics to be discussed during the Special Session in 2016.

The delegation of Afghanistan also met with the UNODC Executive Director where the new Country Program for Afghanistan was signed. The visit was concluded with a meeting between the delegation of Afghanistan and the OSCE Secretary General Ambassador Zannier as an opportunity to discuss the prospect of the OSCE-Afghanistan partnership.

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Deputy Foreign Minister Hekmat Khalil Karzai Attends the 22nd Meeting of the OSCE Ministerial Council in Belgrade

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Belgrade, 04.12.2015

Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Hekmat Khalil Karzai, attended the 22nd Meeting of the OSCE Ministerial Council in Belgrade from 3-4 December 2015. In his statement at the plenary, Deputy Minister Karzai shared an overview of the ongoing efforts and processes in Afghanistan as well as the Afghan perspective of the security challenges facing the country and the wider OSCE region. Deputy Minister Karzai highlighted the relevance of the OSCE’s vision and goals in today’s security environment. His statement also included an overview of Afghanistan’s regional cooperation agenda under the Heart of Asia Process and RECCA as well as Afghanistan’s engagement with the OSCE, focusing on areas of cooperation that can be further expanded in the future. Deputy Minister Karzai also had a statement at the Meeting of the OSCE Troika with the OSCE Asian Partners and shared the Afghan perspective of ways to strengthen partnership between the OSCE and the Asia Partners for Cooperation.  In this context, he highlighted the importance of greater cooperation and coordination between the OSCE and the two Afghanistan-focused regional cooperation frameworks: the Istanbul-Heart of Asian Process and RECCA. During his two-day visit to Belgrade, Deputy Minister Karzai also had bilateral meetings with the heads of delegation of Norway, Thailand, Moldova, Mongolia, the OSCE Chairperson-in-Office, Foreign Minister and First Deputy Prime Minister of Serbia, where they discussed the prospects of bilateral relations and the need for exploring new areas of cooperation at a bilateral level. Also discussed during these meetings was the need for enhanced regional and international cooperation in addressing transnational security threats. Deputy Minister Karzai also had a meeting with the OSCE Secretary General and discussed with him various aspects of the OSCE’s engagement with Afghanistan and ways to expand the present partnership between the two parties. Deputy Minister Karzai expressed hope that engagement with Afghanistan will remain a key priority of the OSCE’s agenda in the coming years.

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Ambassador Erfani Delivers Remarks at Europe – Eurasia Leadership Conference 2015

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Vienna, 30.10.2015

From Friday, October 30th to Saturday, October 31st, the Diplomatic Academy of Vienna hosted the Europe-Eurasia Leadership Conference titled “Eurasia and Europe Dialogue: Building Trust and Securing Cooperation for Sustainable Development”. H.E. Ambassador Erfani was invited to the conference and delivered a statement at the close of Friday’s session. Ambassador Erfani spoke on Afghanistan’s 15 years achievements and focused on “Engaging Women and youth in Afghanistan’s Transformation”. He noted that women and youth in Afghanistan will continue to play an important role in Afghanistan becoming a prosperous and peaceful country. The National Unity Government of Afghanistan is committed to bringing women full equality and security and increasing their involvement in development, government and society. Ambassador Erfani remarked on the importance of the work to be done during Afghanistan’s Decade of Transformation (2015-2024), which will be successful due to the commitment of the men and women of Afghanistan. The goals to be tackled include implementing the constitution for a new agenda and reshaping the country and its status in the region and the world. Ambassador Erfani also remarked on Afghanistan’s importance as a bridge connecting the region and beyond for promoting trade, transit and most importantly connecting people and civilizations.  Ambassador Erfani concluded by saying that women and youth are the best hope for peace, sustainability and development in Afghanistan so that Afghanistan is reedy to play its important role as a bridge in the region.

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Ambassador Erfani Delivers Statement at the UNODC

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Vienna, 28.10.2015

H.E. Ambassador Erfani delivered a statement today at the sixth session of the UNODC’s meeting of the Working Group on International Cooperation. He noted to the participants that, “Despite our collective efforts at a global level to counter transnational organized crime, various forms of crime including the new and emerging ones continue to threaten our societies.” He stated Afghanistan’s support for the work done over the years by the Working Group on International Cooperation. Ambassador Erfani praised the UNODC for developing tools to help Member States take action in fighting transnational organized crime, such as the SHERLOC knowledge management portal.

Ambassador Erfani stated that, “Afghanistan continues to suffer as a prime victim of the challenges that terrorism, narcotics, human trafficking, migrant smuggling and other various forms of transnational organized crime pose to our country. As a state party to the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime, the Government of Afghanistan has been actively involved in cooperation at all bilateral, regional and international levels in countering various forms of organized crime and has recently signed extradition agreements with neighboring and regional countries in accordance with its new Law on Extradition. The Government of Afghanistan has also been in the process of negotiating and concluding a number of other bilateral judicial agreements with neighboring and regional countries.” In concluding his remarks, Ambassador Erfani stated that, “Afghanistan is making every effort to build its national capacity to implement its obligations under the relevant regional and international mechanisms to fight transnational organized crime and we will need our partners continued cooperation to this end.”

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Ambassador Erfani speaks at OSCE Asian Contact Group Meeting

11225348_1632973403652128_7738566875833571843_nVienna, 16.10.2015

On October 16th, Ambassador Erfani delivered a presentation on “Afghanistan’s Decade of Transformation and Gender Dynamics” at this year’s final meeting of the OSCE Asian Contact Group. After thanking the group’s Chairperson, Ambassador Claude Wild of Switzerland, for the warm welcome and introduction, Ambassador Erfani provided a brief overview about the historical perspective concerning the situation of women in Afghanistan. The Ambassador then highlighted accomplishments achieved since 2001, including a solid framework of both domestic and international legal instruments, institutional building, political commitment, democratic structures and elections, the role of media, and civil society engagement.

“Despite challenging security conditions in some areas of the country, due to terrorists’ activities, we have managed to enable women to regain their historic role as a powerful force for change and progress in our society,” the Ambassador said. Ambassador Erfani also emphasized the remaining and emerging challenges in the empowerment of women noting that, “Work to improve the situation of women in Afghanistan is in progress, but we accept that there is much more to do.”12111954_1632973400318795_8963704946664707409_n

The Ambassador stated that there is strong commitment by the President of Afghanistan, H.E. Mohammad Ashraf Ghani, by the Chief Executive of Afghanistan, H.E. Dr. Abdullah Abdullah, and as a matter of fact by the entire cabinet, to continue the work in improving the situation for women in Afghanistan. Ambassador Erfani also made reference to the important role of the First Lady of Afghanistan, Rula Ghani, in encouraging participation of women in Afghan politics by forming the Women Advisory Board.

Ambassador Erfani noted the important role of the OSCE in advancing women’s rights in Afghanistan and appealed to the international community to continue and expand the support in implementing the legal and political commitments. He concluded with a request to the OSCE and all present to, “Please continue your assistance and we look forward to further broadening and deepening our collaboration with all of you and with a view to accomplishing a stable, prosperous and democratic Afghanistan for all Afghans. Women constitute more than 50% of Afghan society and without their active participation Afghanistan will not be able reach its goal for a stable, democratic and prosperous future”.


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