Top UN envoy to Afghanistan visits Iran to boost ties
9 March 2009The top United Nations envoy to Afghanistan is in Iran today to explore further areas of cooperation between the neighbouring nations. Kai Eide, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative, addressed a high-level meeting in Tehran of the 10-nation Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO), an inter-governmental group promoting mutual economic, technical and cultural support in Central Asia.The body’s membership consists of Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Iran, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Turkey, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.His visit is part of efforts, mandated by the Security Council, of the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) to improve regional cooperation to build a stable and more prosperous nation.The official is slated to meet with Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki and other senior Government officials during the visit. Last month, the UN and its partners launched their 2009 Humanitarian Action Plan for Afghanistan and appealed for $604 million to help meet the needs of Afghans made vulnerable by natural disasters, lack of access to basic social services, increasing food insecurity and the worsening security situation. More than half of the funds will go towards food aid, while almost $100 million will be used to rid the strife-torn nation of landmines.The Plan, with a set of 112 projects from 39 non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and eight UN agencies, also focuses on the delivery of education, water and sanitation, as well as on protection concerns amid growing insecurity in a country, where 42 per cent of the population lives on less than $1 per day.