Hil­lary seeks more Euro­pean help in Afghanistan

The Pak Banker - - 6international -

AS­TANA: U.S. Sec­re­tary of State Hil­lary Rod­ham Clin­ton called on a Euro­pean se­cu­rity or­ga­ni­za­tion Wed­nes­day to play a big­ger role in help­ing sta­bi­lize Afghanistan and to do more to strengthen the voice of hu­man rights groups world­wide.

In the af­ter­math of the leak of huge num­bers of sen­si­tive U.S. diplo­matic ca­bles by the Wik­iLeaks anti-se­crecy web­site, Clin­ton also urged a greater com­mit­ment to press free­dom, but she made no overt ref­er­ence to the em­bar­rass­ing episode.

"It is not enough for a con­sti­tu­tion to guar­an­tee free­dom of the press if, in re­al­ity, jour­nal­ists are put un­der in­tense pres­sure and even as­saulted," she told the open­ing ses­sion of the Or­ga­ni­za­tion for Se­cu­rity and Co­op­er­a­tion in Europe's first sum­mit meet­ing in 11 years.

She made no ex­plicit men­tion of Wik­iLeaks, nor did it come up in other of­fi­cials' speeches on the first day of the sum­mit.

On the side­lines of the sum­mit, Clin­ton and her Be­larus­sian coun­ter­part, Sergei Mar­tynov, an­nounced that the for­mer Soviet re­pub­lic of Be­larus will give up its stock­pile of ma­te­rial used to make nu­clear weapons by 2012.

That's a sig­nif­i­cant step for­ward in ef­forts aimed at keep­ing nu­clear ma­te­ri­als out of the hands of ter­ror­ists, and fol­lows sim­i­lar com­mit­ments made by other for­mer Soviet re­publics, in­clud­ing Kaza­khstan. Washington will pro­vide tech­ni­cal and fi­nan­cial help to en­able Be­larus to dis­pose of its highly en­riched ura­nium stocks.

On Afghanistan, Clin­ton said the OSCE can play an im­por­tant role to im­prove border se­cu­rity, counter il­licit traf­fick­ing, boost le­git­i­mate trade, pro­mote eco­nomic devel­op­ment and help de­velop na­tional in­sti­tu­tions.

She urged a recom­mit­ment to what she called "com­pre­hen­sive se­cu­rity" - not just pro­tec­tion against armed at­tack but also pro­tec­tion of democ­racy, hu­man rights and fun­da­men­tal free­doms.

The sum­mit is be­ing held over two days in As­tana, the gleam­ing new Kazakh cap­i­tal ris­ing from the sparsely pop­u­lated north­ern steppes.

The OSCE was born in the 1970s to nur­ture rap­proche­ment be­tween Cold War en­e­mies. But the or­ga­ni­za­tion has in re­cent years strug­gled to de­fine a clear pur­pose - an anx­i­ety re­flected in the speeches of many lead­ers at the As­tana sum­mit.

In the open­ing ad­dress, U.N. Sec­re­tary-Gen­eral Ban Ki-moon lamented short­com­ings among the group's mem­bers in en­forc­ing the rule of law and pro­tect­ing the rights of mi­nori­ties. -Ap

AS­TANA: French Prime Min­is­ter Fran­cois Fil­lon (L) talks with Bri­tish deputy Prime Min­is­ter Ni­cholas Clegg (R) dur­ing a bi­lat­eral meet­ing on the side­lines of the OSCE Sum­mit. -Ap

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