U.S. Ambassador Khalilzad confident about multilateral efforts in Afghanistan
On April 25, GMF hosted Zalmay Khalilzad, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, for a discussion on the future of Afghanistan and the role of the international community. In a conversation with German journalist Klaus-Peter Siegloch of ZDF Television, Khalilzad expressed confidence in current multilateral efforts in Afghanistan and reaffirmed American support for new UN Special Representative Kai Eide. He suggested that success in Afghanistan be measured in terms of the nation's self-sustainability, and warned that pushing its fledgling political order too quickly toward any prescribed identity could be counterproductive.
Khalilzad highlighted the importance of the UN's mission in Afghanistan, despite admitting that it has yet to reach an acceptable standard of efficiency in its decision-making or implementation. He expressed optimism at the willingness of international actors in Afghanistan to coordinate under the direction of Special Representative Eide, but warned that his success will be contingent on the international community's willingness to provide him with sufficient bureaucratic support.
Khalilzad suggested that working toward better regional cooperation should be among Eide's first priorities and warned that Pakistan's recent negotiations with Taliban elements will contribute to insecurity and complicate Eide's efforts at regional diplomacy. Khalilzad stressed that Afghanistan's neighbors, especially Iran and Pakistan, must be made to understand that long-term peace and prosperity benefit them more than continued insecurity. He lauded the economic benefits of a stable and open Afghanistan, imagining the nation as a land bridge connecting the resource-rich areas of South and Central Asia.
Despite advocating for more international engagement in Afghanistan, Khalilzad acknowledged that the nation's political development can, in the long term, only be forwarded by Afghans. While some voiced concerns at the number of political appointments in local governments, Khalilzad countered that leaders at the latest loya jirga were insistent on the necessity of such appointments in preventing a descent into federalism.