Remarks by H.E. Ambassador Koro Bessho Permanent Representative of Japan to the United Nations at the Briefing on the Situation in Afghanistan

Thank you, Mr. President.
I would like to begin by welcoming Foreign Minister Salahuddin Rabbani to the Council, and I appreciate his statement.  I would also like to thank Special Representative Tadamichi Yamamoto for his briefing. 
We are pleased to have seen some progress in Afghanistan on electoral preparations and related assessments, including the announcement of parliamentary and district council elections for 7 July 2018.  However, Afghanistan continues to face profound and numerous challenges.  The seriousness of the situation in Afghanistan warrants enhanced performance by UNAMA in support of efforts by the National Unity Government towards peace and stability.  The Afghan people and the world also look to the UN for vital support for the country’s development and institution building. 
With this in mind, we welcome the Secretary-General’s Strategic Review as a useful guide for the Council’s deliberations.  The Council now needs to undertake serious discussions on how to incorporate these recommendations into UNAMA’s mandate.  This would be an excellent opportunity to adapt UNAMA’s mandate to current realities on the ground.  As the lead country in the Council on Afghanistan, Japan looks forward to an intensive and interactive discussion among Council members on these and related issues.
As the Secretary-General has noted, there has been no major progress on the peace process during the current reporting period.  Japan therefore takes note of the expanded role envisioned for UNAMA as an impartial mediator for the peace process.  The UN can make a major contribution in this area, but the National Unity Government and regional actors must work to create a conducive environment to make reconciliation possible. 
We are aware of various regional and international initiatives in support of the peace process that are currently being discussed.  We were encouraged by bilateral discussions between the leaders of Pakistan and Afghanistan in June to build regional confidence.  We hope that these and other initiatives yield substantive and positive results, with the participation of all key countries.
Above all, the peace and reconciliation process must be Afghan-led and Afghan-owned, putting the interests of the Afghan people first.  The Strategic Review’s proposal for UN support to greater unity and cohesion within the National Unity Government is thus particularly important.  The Secretary-General has noted some recent improvements in achieving consensus, but much more is needed.  As Japan has noted in previous briefings, the Afghan people urgently require their government to overcome factional rivalries to meet the country’s pressing security and development needs.  It is essential for credible parliamentary and district council elections to be held as currently scheduled, and under secure conditions.
In this vein, I would also like to underline the importance of efforts to improve security in the country.  The Council and UNAMA have issued countless press statements condemning the horrifying attacks on civilians.  The unfortunate reduction of diplomatic and development actors in Afghanistan following the 31 May terrorist attack was inevitable, but this has a negative impact on both international efforts and the people of Afghanistan.  We look forward to enhanced security and a restored international presence as soon as possible.
We have much work ahead on Afghanistan.  The full implementation of resolution 2344 will be vital, as will the continued and productive engagement of the international community and all stakeholders.  Japan reiterates its commitment to supporting Afghanistan and to the enhanced performance of UNAMA. 
I thank you, Mr. President.