UN votes to continue Afghan aid mission

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The UN security council has voted unanimously to extend a mission in Afghanistan for a year to lead international civilian efforts to provide aid, promote reconstruction, combat corruption and help improve civilian-military co-operation.

The council's resolution on Monday also authorised the UN mission to strengthen and expand its presence throughout the country to promote 'good governance and the rule of law' and to support the Afghan government in conducting crucial presidential and provincial council elections on August 20.

The security council voted a year ago to expand the UN mission in Afghanistan and refocus its work to improving co-ordination of international civilian efforts to help promote peace.

The mission has about 270 international staff, 1,160 local staff, 16 military observers, seven international police and 32 UN volunteers.

The security council called on the Afghan government, backed by US-led military forces, 'to continue to address the threat to the security and stability of Afghanistan posed by the Taliban, al-Qaida, illegally armed groups, criminals and those involved in the narcotics trade.'

In a report to the council earlier this month, UN secretary general Ban Ki Moon painted a grim picture of deteriorating security, widespread corruption and the failure of the government and the international community to meet the expectations of the Afghan people.

Elsewhere, Iran's former president Seyed Mohammad Khatami likened US-led military forces in Afghanistan to a man who finds that, the more he cuddles a baby, the more it cries.

Speaking at a Canberra university, Mr Khatami said: 'Someone came and told him to just leave the baby alone: 'It will be quiet, it's your face that's the real problem'.'