At a meeting in Munich, representatives of 18 states and international organizations agreed to closely coordinate their efforts in Afghanistan. The Afghanistan and Pakistan Support Group met for the first time today in Munich on invitation by Germany. Germany will oversee further coordination of the group.
Participating in the Munich meeting were Peter Galbraith, the new Deputy Special Representative of the United Nations; U.S. Special Envoy Richard Holbrooke; EU Special Representative Ettore Sequi; and the envoys of other partner states and NATO.
Following the meeting in Munich today (1 April), the German Foreign Office Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, Ambassador Bernd Mützelburg, issued the following statement:
“The most important objective of our group is to more closely coordinate the efforts of the international community – in support of the work of the United Nations.
Following the international conference on Afghanistan in The Hague and in preparation for the NATO Summit and the international donor conference on Pakistan taking place in Tokyo, we engaged in an in-depth and open exchange on the issues of security, elections, and civilian reconstruction.
We agreed that the greatest challenge of the near future will be conducting free, fair, and transparent elections in Afghanistan. We intend to support these elections as much as possible.”
The aim of the consultations, which took place on invitation by German Special Representative Bernd Mützelburg, was to more closely and directly integrate international efforts in the region. The meeting furthermore provided the opportunity to consult on the form of further cooperation among the envoys. The next meeting is scheduled to take place on the sidelines of the donor conference on Pakistan in Tokyo, on 17 April.
The results of the international conference on Afghanistan, which took place in The Hague on 31 March, served as the basis for the consultations. The conference generated important momentum to further strengthen the international engagement in Afghanistan. In The Hague, participants from over 80 states agreed to an enhanced regional strategy and reaffirmed a comprehensive approach, where civilian and military efforts are equally integrated. Regional stakeholders such as Pakistan and Iran also supported the results.
In The Hague (31 March), German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier welcomed the growing international unity in matters concerning Afghanistan and reaffirmed that the German Government was ready to contribute to a new concerted effort by the international community. In consultation with German Finance Minister Peer Steinbrück, Minister Steinmeier announced a German contribution of € 50 million to a trust fund dedicated to building up and training the Afghan army (ANA Trust Fund).
Minister Steinmeier furthermore lobbied for support of a German initiative to create civilian aerial surveillance. Aerial surveillance has been thoroughly insufficient to date and remains largely in the hands of the military.