World News

U.N. council renews NATO mandate in Afghanistan

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - The U.N. Security Council on Wednesday renewed the mandate for NATO forces in Afghanistan and voiced its support for the Afghan government’s attempts at “peaceful political dialogue” with insurgents.

The 15-nation council unanimously approved a resolution that extends the mandate of NATO’s International Security Assistance Force, or ISAF, in Afghanistan until October 13, 2011.

The resolution also expressed “strong concern about the security situation in Afghanistan, in particular the increased violent and terrorist activities by the Taliban, al Qaeda, (and) other illegal armed groups and criminals.”

The resolution urged “all Afghan parties and groups to engage constructively in peaceful political dialogue” and said council members encouraged the Afghan government-led peace process aimed at rehabilitating Taliban insurgents willing to give up their arms and accept the Kabul government.

The council also voiced “serious concern with the increased high number of civilian casualties,” though it said most of those have been caused by the Taliban and al Qaeda.

ISAF was established in December 2001 after a U.S.-led invasion of Afghanistan in response to the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States toppled the Taliban government.

According to the ISAF website, there were nearly 120,000 troops in ISAF as of August 6, 2010, over 78,000 of whom were from the United States. Other top troop contributors include Britain, Germany and France.

Reporting by Louis Charbonneau; Editing by Jerry Norton