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Remarks by Ambassador Zhang Jun at Security Council VTC Debate on UNAMA

2021/06/23

Madam President,

I thank you for presiding over the meeting today. I also thank SRSG Lyons and Executive Director Waly for their briefings, and Ms. Akrami for her statement. In particular, I would like to welcome Foreign Minister of Afghanistan to the meeting today.

The current situation of Afghanistan is at a critical crossroads. The country is entering a stage with a new round of uncertainties. It appears to us that since the US announcement of troops withdrawal in April, the intra-Afghan negotiations have seen setbacks, rather than progress. The security situation is deteriorating, and economic and humanitarian situation has become increasingly precarious. China is deeply concerned about this. We need to think hard about what caused the current situation in Afghanistan, and what is the way forward for Afghanistan to achieve durable stability and security in the next stage.

Madam President,

The future of Afghanistan should be in the hands of the Afghan people themselves, and the future political arrangement for the country should be decided independently by the Afghans. The international community should follow the Afghan-led and Afghan-owned principle, uphold fairness and justice, and contribute more positively to the peace and reconciliation process in Afghanistan. No external forces shall be allowed to pursue narrow self-interest in Afghanistan, and turn Afghanistan into an arena of geopolitical games. All parties in Afghanistan should bear in mind that the interests of the country and its people to work together to consolidate the gains in peace and reconstruction achieved in the past 20 years, and explore a governance model and development path that suits Afghanistan's national conditions.

Although the progress in intra-Afghan peace talks has been slow, it is hard to come by and we should not let it be reversed.

We hope that all parties in the intra-Afghan peace talks can earnestly build consensus and set out the roadmap and timetable for reconciliation soon. China welcomes the resumption of contact between the Afghan negotiating team and the Taliban delegation in Doha, and hopes that the two sides will resume a new round of negotiations as soon as possible. China stands ready to host the intra-Afghan dialogue at an appropriate time to facilitate and support peace talks.

Madam President,

Peace talks need an enabling environment of peace and stability. At present, violence is prevalent in Afghanistan, with security incidents from February to May increasing by nearly 30% in comparison with the same period last year. The Security Council has issued since May three press statements on violent attacks in Afghanistan. China condemns all violent attacks against civilians and calls for a ceasefire and cessation of violence as soon as possible. We welcome the short ceasefire reached by the Afghan government and the Taliban during the Eid al-fitr, and hope both sides will create more favorable conditions to gradually expand the duration and scope of the ceasefire.

During the coming period, the issue of the withdrawal of foreign troops remains the biggest external factor affecting the situation in Afghanistan. Foreign troops cannot come and leave as they wish. China urges foreign forces to withdraw in a responsible and orderly manner, fully consult with the Afghan government on post-withdrawal arrangement, and enhance transparency with countries in the region, to prevent the security situation from worsening or even getting out of control. Terrorism remains a severe challenge facing Afghanistan and regional countries. All parties should step up their efforts to fight terrorist organizations, such as Al-Qaeda, ISIL and ETIM to prevent the resurgence of terrorist forces. China opposes firmly the politicization of counter-terrorism, or double standards in this regard.

Madam President,

Lasting peace cannot be achieved without strong support of development. The international community should continue to support the peace and reconciliation process in Afghanistan, help Afghanistan engage in regional cooperation, strengthen connectivity, and enhance capacity for independent development. We need to help Afghanistan implement the National Peace and Development Framework 2021-2025, and solve a series of difficult problems such as drugs, poverty and refugees. Developed countries should earnestly fulfill their commitments and continue to provide development and humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan.

UNAMA has played an important role in supporting peace and reconstruction of Afghanistan. Its mandate will expire in September this year. Under the current situation, there is great uncertainty in the future environment of UNAMA. The United Nations should continue to play its role on the Afghan issue, but effective performance of mandate cannot be achieved without security guarantees. Regarding the United Nations’ presence in Afghanistan after September, we request the Secretary-General to propose specific arrangements and different options for early consideration by the Security Council.

Madam President,

As a friendly neighbor of Afghanistan, China has all along actively supported the peace process in Afghanistan and been making efforts in this regard. In May, State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi presided over the China+Central Asia Foreign Ministers meeting, which issued a joint statement on the Afghan issue. In June, State Councilor Wang Yi chaired the fourth China-Afghanistan-Pakistan Foreign Ministers Dialogue, during which he put forward important proposals on advancing peace and reconciliation in Afghanistan. China has also actively promoted the Shanghai Cooperation Organization to play a bigger role on peace and reconciliation in Afghanistan. As we speak, the MoU between China and Afghanistan on Belt and Road cooperation is being implemented in an orderly manner, with China's accumulated free aid to Afghanistan amounting to billions of RMB yuan. Since the outbreak of COVID-19, China has provided multiple batches of medical supplies and emergency food assistance to Afghanistan. Earlier this month, 700,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccines, ventilators and anesthetic equipment and other medical supplies have arrived in Kabul.

China will do its utmost to continue to be a supporter, mediator and facilitator of the peace and reconciliation process in Afghanistan, to help the country achieve peace, stability, development and prosperity at an early date.

Thank you, Madam President.

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