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UN Security Council Envoys On Afghan Visit

KABUL (Reuters) -- United Nations Security Council ambassadors and envoys arrived in Kabul on November 24 for a three-day visit to meet with President Hamid Karzai and assess the status of a $20 billion funding pledge to Afghanistan.

The UN Security Council delegation, led by Ambassador Giulio Terzi of Italy, will assess efforts to improve security and rebuild a country which has been in a state of war for almost three decades.

At the Paris donors' conference on June 12, French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner said that around $20 billion had been pledged to fund development in Afghanistan, although the country initially sought $50 billion.

The delegation, which will also promote the role of the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan, set up in 2002, will assess the implementation of the Paris funding pledges.

Attacks by Taliban insurgents in Afghanistan's provinces bordering Pakistan have increased in recent months, and Karzai has blamed Western forces, including NATO, which operates under a UN Security Council mandate, for killing dozens of civilians in air strikes this year.

On November 23, U.S. President-elect Barack Obama told Karzai he would make it a priority to fight terrorism and bring security to Afghanistan. While still a candidate, Obama had also criticized Karzai for failing to tackle corruption and the drugs trade.