UN Security Council plans Afghanistan mission

Updated: 2006-10-10 10:40

UNITED NATIONS - The U.N. Security Council plans a mission to Afghanistan to review the volatile situation and assure the country's people of the world body's commitment, Japan's U.N. Ambassador Kenzo Oshima said on Monday.

Oshima, the current Security Council president, said the visit probably would take place sometime in November.

Fighting in Afghanistan between insurgents and coalition forces this year is the worst since the hard-line Taliban government was ousted in late 2001 by a U.S.-led invasion.

"Preliminary thinking has suggested that perhaps it will not be feasible to have a full-scale 15-member council mission to Afghanistan at this point in time, including for logistical reasons," Oshima told reporters.

"Subject to further consultations I expect this mission to be a rather compact mission comprising of several member states," he said after a council briefing from Tom Koenigs, the special U.N. envoy in Afghanistan and others, and Antonio Maria Costa, head of the U.N. drugs and crime office.

A U.N. mission, mandated until March 2007, supports and advises the Afghan authorities on economic and political development, justice reform, humanitarian aid and anti-drug programs.

Oshima said the council remains concerned about the security situation, particularly in the country's south and southeast, and the recent increase in production and trafficking of opium -- the raw material for heroin.

A 2006 U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime survey found production of the raw material for heroin hit a record 6,100 tonnes, almost 50 percent higher than last year. This accounted for more than 90 percent of the world's supply.

Oshima said the Security Council also was given an update by Pakistan's U.N. ambassador, Munir Akram, on Pakistan's efforts to combat al Qaeda and the Taliban.

Pakistan's President Pervez Musharraf and Afghan President Hamid Karzai clashed during a visit to the United States in September, criticizing each other's efforts to fight al Qaeda and the Taliban.

"The members of the Security Council welcomed efforts by the governments of Afghanistan and its neighboring partners to foster trust and cooperation with each other," Oshima said.

He said the council also "looked forward to increasing cooperation between Afghanistan and the partners against the Taliban, al Qaeda and other extremist groups in promoting peace and prosperity in Afghanistan".