UNITED NATIONS, March 19 (Xinhua) -- An Afghan diplomat said here Tuesday that his country believes strengthening national sovereignty is central to transition in the war-torn country.
The statement came as Zahir Tanin, the Afghan permanent representative to the United Nations, was taking the floor at an open debate of the UN Security Council on the situation in Afghanistan.
"After more than a decade of shared efforts, strengthening of sovereignty entails normalization through security, political and economic transition," Tanin said. "For the Afghan people, national sovereignty means taking full responsibility for their destiny."
In early December, the Afghan forces took over the full security charges of six eastern provinces from the NATO-led forces. The transition of security control from foreign troops to Afghan forces, which began in summer 2011, is due to be completed by the end of 2014.
"With the announcement of the 4th tranche of transition this past December, assumption of full security responsibility by the Afghan forces is more tangible than ever," he said. "By the end of this stage, 87 percent of the Afghan population will be living in areas where Afghan security forces are in charge of security."
"The Afghan people are keenly focused on a successful political transition, and all eyes are on the election next spring," he said. "The government of Afghanistan is committed to fair, democratic, transparent and inclusive elections, in which the men and women of Afghanistan will again shape their political future."
"Preparations for elections are well underway," he said. " There is overwhelming consensus that a successful and credible election will be necessary for stability and lasting peace," he said. "At the same time, peaceful talks and reconciliation with the armed opposition are essential for a successful election. The Afghan government is doing its utmost to ensure the success of the reconciliation process."
While hosting Afghan President Hamid Karzai in Washington D.C. in January, U.S. President Barack Obama said that starting this spring, American troops would have a different mission: training, advising, assisting Afghan forces. "It will be a historic moment and another step toward full Afghan sovereignty."
As a result, the U.S. military will further reduce its presence in Afghanistan, which stands at some 66,000 now. In all, the NATO- led forces have some 100,000 troops in Afghanistan.
At their summit held last May in Chicago, the U.S. state of Illinois, NATO leaders agreed to shift to a support role in mid- 2013 and withdraw most of their combat troops by the end of 2014.