UNGA 2020: Turmoil battering Afghanistan can end with ‘united, democratic’ success

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Hind Al Soulia - Riyadh - President Ashraf Ghani called on global leaders to help turn Afghanistan into a “sovereign united, democratic” success story.

As Afghan leaders hold peace talks with the Taliban, he said the country can be a model for overcoming the turmoil we all face.

Mr Ghani said five drivers of turmoil that are hitting the world and they are being dealt with in Afghanistan simultaneously.

One of them, the coronavirus pandemic, was having aggravating effects the other four – warfare and terrorism, inequality, climate change and the digital revolution.

“We have demonstrated the commitment, passion and courage to start direct peace talks with the Taliban but it won’t be enough. For sustainable peace in Afghanistan we must get to the roots of the terrorism blighting our region,” he said.

“The untold sorrow of our people during the last 40 years serves as reminder of relevance of the UN charter and also of its unfulfilled promise for maintaining international peace and security,” Mr Ghani added.

US President Donald (on screen), as he addresses the general debate of the seventy-fifth session of the United Nations General Assembly. AFP

Russian President Vladimir Putin, speaks in a pre-recorded message which was played during the 75th session of the United Nations General Assembly. UNTV via AP

Xi Jinping, China's president, speaks during the United Nations General Assembly seen on a laptop computer. Bloomberg

United States President Donald Trump speaks in a pre-recorded message which was played during the 75th session of the United Nations General Assembly. UNTV via AP

A statue of former South African President Nelson Mandela is seen in the empty arrivals hall at United Nations headquarters during the 75th annual UN General Assembly high level debate. Reuters

A UN police officer stands at an empty entrance at the United Nations. AFP

Dian Triansyah Djani, left, permanent representative of Indonesia to the UN, takes a photo with Kairat Umarov, centre, permanent representative of Kazakhstan and Tijjani Muhammad-Bande former president of the General Assembly. UN via AP

US President Donald Trump (on screen), as he addresses the general debate. AFP

President of the People's Republic of China, Xi Jinping (on screen), as he addresses the general debate. AFP

President of of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdogan (on screen), as he addresses the general debate. AFP

Donald Trump, president of the United States, speaks in a pre-recorded message. UN via AP

Recep Tayyip Erdogan, president of Turkey, speaks in a pre-recorded message which was played during the 75th session of the United Nations General Assembly. UNTV via AP

Chinese President Xi Jinping appearing by video link at the United Nations 75th anniversary is seen on an outdoor screen as pedestrians walk past below in Beijing on September 22, 2020. AFP

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres speaks during the 75th session of the United Nations General Assembly. UNTV Via AP

Representatives of different countries listen to speakers during the 75th session of the United Nations General Assembly. UNTV via AP

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro speaks in a pre-recorded message. UNTV via AP

United Nations General Assembly President Volkan Bozkir, of Turkey, speaks during the 75th session of the United Nations General Assembly. UNTV via AP

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, top, speaks in a pre-recorded message being played during the 75th session of the United Nations General Assembly. UNTV via AP

He said it was vital to wipe out terrorism, with its links to international crime.

“We are living and dying inside the fifth wave of global terrorism … making warfare totally unconventional and peace-building even more of a challenge.”

Mr Ghani said Afghan peace could be a sign for the world that the UN’s loftier goals of spreading peace are attainable.

“The role of the UN and our international partners and allies will continue to be extremely important as our negotiating team sits across from the Taliban.

“At those talks, the Afghan people have a clear and urgent priority – a ceasefire, an end to the violence, that gives us the chance to progress.”

Mr Ghani also talked about UAE help for his country’s coronavirus

"We took very strong measures thanks in part to the warning and advanced notice we received from the Emirates," said Afghan President Ashraf Ghani about his country's Covid-19 response measures.

He said the UAE was "the only country I know that predicted the likely scenario," and thanked Sheikh Tahnoun bin Mohammed and Abu Dhabi for its advance warning.

"As a result of that we mobilised."

Mr Ghani said Afghanistan likely has 7,000 more coronavirus deaths than the official toll of 1,446.

"The impact has been severe."

Afghanistan's economic growth was projected to grow 3.5 per cent in 2020, but will instead drop to minus five per cent, he said. The impact of the virus has resulted in a revenue loss of 33 per cent.

Small and medium business have been "very hard hit."

The UN and its international organisations have "not delivered a single laboratory for testing," said the Afghan president, noting that their support has been "marginal."

Updated: September 24, 2020 03:35 AM

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