United Nations, March 13 – UN chief Ban Ki-moon said Thursday that he would open the high-level conference on the future of Afghanistan hosted by the Dutch government in The Hague on March 31.
“The security situation continues to deteriorate. Elections are coming,” he told a press conference here a day after holding White House talks with US President Barack Obama.
“Afghanistan is at another crossroads,” he added. “This conference offers an opportunity to define a common way forward.”
The upcoming parley is to be attended by foreign ministers and representatives of international bodies involved in security and reconstruction in Afghanistan.
Last week, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called for a high-level conference on Afghanistan “and the broader regional challenge.”
She said Afghan and Pakistani officials would be invited, with NATO allies, donors, international organizations and “key regional and strategic” nations.
In an apparent, new overture by the Obama administration towards arch-foe Iran, Clinton has said Tehran will receive an invitation to the gathering in The Hague.
Nearly 70,000 foreign troops under NATO and US command have been fighting a Taliban insurgency in Afghanistan since late 2001.
Ban meanwhile hailed what he called “the fresh thinking and focus on Afghanistan by the Obama administration.
Wednesday, Obama nominated career military officer Lieutenant General Karl Eikenberry as his new ambassador to Afghanistan.
The announcement came as the US leader awaits the results of a review of Washington’s policy towards Pakistan and Afghanistan, expected to be concluded by the time he heads to a NATO summit early next month.