New UN envoy discusses Afghanistan with United States officials

The new United Nations envoy to Afghanistan has just wrapped two days of meetings with United States officials in Washington, D.C., during which they expressed their full support for the world body’s efforts in the strife-torn nation.

Kai Eide, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative and head of the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), met with President George W. Bush, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Defense Secretary Robert Gates.

Mr. Eide and President Bush discussed the upcoming Paris conference in support of the Afghan Government, the importance of the upcoming elections and Mr. Eide’s key coordination role.

“They agreed that this is a crucial moment for Afghanistan,” UN spokesperson Marie Okabe told journalists.

The past several days have witnessed an escalation in terrorist attacks in the country, including a suicide bombing yesterday that killed a number of civilians in the country’s eastern Nangarhar province, and an attack on a parade in Kabul on Sunday that was attended by President Hamid Karzai and other dignitaries.

Mr. Karzai – who has survived three assassination attempts in recent years – escaped uninjured in the attack, which claimed the lives of two Parliament members and injured nine others, including two Afghan National Police officers.

Mr. Eide now heads to Ottawa, where he will meet with senior Canadian officials to discuss support for UN activities in Afghanistan ahead of the Paris conference.