Remarks at a UN Security Council Open Arria-Formula Meeting on Partnership between Afghanistan and Central Asia

Ambassador Michele J. Sison
U.S. Deputy Permanent Representative to the United Nations
U.S. Mission to the United Nations
New York City
November 27, 2017


Thank you, and I want to thank Ambassador Umarov, Ambassador Heusgen, and you, Ambassador Saikal, for organizing this meeting. And thank you also to our three briefers this afternoon. Ambassador Umarov, we look forward to Kazakhstan’s upcoming Presidency of the Security Council in January. In particular, we look forward to the Council’s mission to Kabul in January to gain a first-hand perspective on the challenges facing Afghanistan, a perspective which will more fully inform the Council’s work, we hope.

I would like to make three observations about the U.S.’ approach in Afghanistan and how it is in strong alignment with the topic we are discussing here this afternoon.

First, the U.S. agrees that only a comprehensive, consistent, and sustained approach toward Afghanistan, defined by coordinated political, security, and development efforts, offers the prospect for a lasting and sustainable peace in Afghanistan. We’re encouraged that the United Nations and our international partners continue to align their efforts with the commitments made at the Brussels Conference, and we look to the Afghan government to continue working toward its commitments to internal reforms. Indeed, it was this recognition that led to the commitments of the Afghan government and the international community at the Warsaw and Brussels Conferences, to continue support to foster economic development, improve regional economic cooperation, and support the development of Afghan institutions. Ensuring that we maintain that alignment and press for the fulfillment of the commitments made in Brussels will contribute to a coherent international approach in Afghanistan between now and the year 2020.

Second, while we discuss a comprehensive approach, we should recognize that efforts to address the significant security threats currently facing Afghanistan are complementary to those intended to support peacebuilding and development. In announcing the new United States regional strategy for South Asia in August, President Trump made clear that we will continue to support the Afghan government and security forces in Afghanistan in their fight against the Taliban and in their efforts to prevent reestablishment of international terrorist safe havens. The purpose of this support is to demonstrate to the Taliban and to their supporters that they cannot win on the battlefield, while also making clear that there is a real path to peace through negotiations. In this spirit, all of our activities, along with those of our NATO allies, are aligned towards the goal of achieving a political settlement via an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned, inclusive peace process. At the same time, UNAMA and other actors are well-positioned to support local confidence-building measures, strengthen engagement with civil society, and to support national dialogue initiatives that will help prepare the country for a peace process when it begins in earnest.

Third, we are in full agreement that addressing the challenges in Afghanistan requires a regional approach. A central tenet of the United States strategy is that Afghanistan’s security and stability are tied to the security and stability of the entire region, and that we must enlist the region in efforts to bring about peace in Afghanistan. So in addition to deepening economic integration and strengthening efforts to address cross-border threats such as the narcotics trade, we also need to see the region working together politically to support an Afghan-led, Afghan-owned peace process and to use existing channels and influence with the parties in Afghanistan to press them towards negotiations.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.