The International Contact Group for Afghanistan convened in Helsinki under the direction of Foreign Minister Tuomioja
A meeting of the International Contact Group focusing on Afghanistan was held in Helsinki on 17 June under the direction of Foreign Minister Erkki Tuomioja. The Contact Group acts as a high-level forum for political coordination and other international efforts for promotion of peace and stability in Afghanistan and the neighbouring areas. This Contact Group meeting was the first ever held in a Nordic country.
The meeting was attended by high-ranking official from more than 50 countries and international organisations, including Marc Grossman, the United States Special Envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan. Afghanistans representatives in the meeting were Minister of Finance Omar Zakhilwal and Deputy Foreign Minister Jawed Ludin. Finance Minister Zakhilwal is in charge of, for example, development funding allocated to Afghanistan.
The meeting made preparations for the ministerial conference, to be held on 8 July in Tokyo, focusing on the economy of and development aid for Afghanistan, and reviewed the results of the NATO Chicago Summit of 21 May. The meetings in Chicago and Tokyo play an important role with a view to long-term planning of support provided to Afghanistan. In Tokyo, the intention is to agree on a development strategy for Afghanistan for the coming years and to reinforce the mutual commitments of both the international community and the Government of Afghanistan in support of this strategy.
Arrangement of the Contact Group meeting in Helsinki is part of Finlands contribution to enhancement of stability in Afghanistan. At the same time, it is an excellent opportunity for Finland to share ideas with other countries about the future of Afghanistan and long-term plans for supporting it. In his opening address, Minister Tuomioja highlighted the co-dependency between development and security, and the importance of the continuing support of the international community to Afghanistan. Tuomioja also underscored the meaning of the reconciliation process, promotion of the status of women and regional cooperation.
Additional information: Sanna Selin, First Secretary, Unit for Asia and Oceania, tel. +358 40 351 9802; and Katja Pehrman, Diplomatic Adviser to Minister Tuomioja, tel. +358 40 181