Sunday, January 25, 2009

Leaders Work to Improve Security in Western Afghanistan

U.S. and Afghan officials met to discuss the status of security in the area and future security initiatives Jan. 21 at the Regional Command West headquarters in western Afghanistan's Camp Arena.

The Regional Security Committee conference drew participants from the Afghan government, NATO's International Security Assistance Force, as well as U.S. and civilian leaders from across the region.

The security committee's goal is to implement policy and initiatives that will produce tangible improvements in security, governance, reconstruction and development throughout the year, officials said.

"I hope we can achieve better coordination with this conference," Ahmad Yusef Nuristani, Herat province's newly appointed governor, said. "We cannot do this alone. We have to coordinate the security sectors and cooperate with one another against the region's enemies."

The conference offered a forum in which representatives from each sector could voice their concerns and opinions and work together to solve the problems they collectively face. Discussing lateral support and lessons learned helps to bolster security in the area, officials said.

"The biggest need in [Herat] province is security, because without security we can't do much in terms of building bigger projects and attracting foreign investment and trade," Nuristani said. "We need to provide some sort of relief in terms of security for the people so they can go to sleep at night with peace of mind."

Now is the time to take action against the Taliban and the insurgent groups in Baghdis [province], Baghdis Governor Mohammad Ashraf Naseri said, and "to let the people know that we are here to bring peace and stability in your areas.

"We are here to solve your problems. We are here to support you and provide an education to your children," he added.

Seif Ibrahim, regional representative for the United Nations Aid Mission to Afghanistan, said he was impressed with the solutions participants brought forth at the conference.

"We are here to coordinate all the activities of the United Nations agencies from humanitarian aid to development," he said. "And for us, security is one of the most important aspects. Wherever there is security, there is development. But when there is no security, there is a negative impact to our activities.

"I am very, very impressed in the way the people have been explaining the security problems and giving out some solutions so that in the future we can reach the people who need us," he said.

(From the NATO International Security Assistance Force public affairs office.)
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