UNSC members meet Afghan President in Kabul, Pakistan may face new pressures

UNSC members meet Afghan President in Kabul, Pakistan may face new pressures

KABUL - Representatives of the United Nations Security Council including US ambassador Nikki Haley held talks with Afghanistan’s top leaders during a three-day visit to the war-torn country that ended Monday.

The unannounced trip by representatives of the 15-member council caused traffic chaos in Kabul, with major streets blocked due to heavy security for the visitors.

It was the first visit by the full council since 2010.

There have been a series of recent high-profile visits to Afghanistan, including by US Vice President Mike Pence last month, as Afghan police and troops struggle to beat back the resurgent Taliban and Islamic State militants expand their foothold.

The talks focused on political, security, socio-economic and human rights issues in Afghanistan, the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) said in a statement after the delegation flew back to New York.

"Council members aimed to get a first-hand account of progress made by the Afghan National Unity Government, with the assistance of the international community, in addressing a wide range of interconnected challenges and to learn how the Security Council could further assist efforts on the ground," UNAMA said.

Among other things "all parties reiterated the need for greater international and regional security cooperation".

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani described the talks as "productive" in a statement from his office.

"Regional cooperation was discussed in the meeting and it was noted that pressure be exerted on Pakistan for the purpose of bringing stability in Afghanistan," the statement said.

Pakistan has long been accused of supporting various militant groups, including the Taliban, and providing them with safe havens -- charges it denies.

US President Donald Trump’s administration this month announced a suspension of military aid to Pakistan, said to be worth up to $2 billion in equipment and funding.

The Security Council also urged Afghanistan to ensure parliamentary and presidential elections scheduled for this year and next were "timely" and "credible".

Afghans are due to vote in parliamentary elections -- already more than two years late -- in July but Western diplomats have expressed doubt about whether the ballot will happen on time, or at all. - AFP