Kairat Umarov (L), the permanent representative of Kazakhstan to the UN, shakes hands with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani at the Presidential Palace in Kabul, Afghanistan, Jan. 14, 2017. A United Nations Security Council delegation has wrapped up a three-day visit to Afghanistan, the UN mission in the country said Monday. (Xinhua/UNAMA Handout)
"The UN Security Council undertook a visit to the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan from the 13th to 15th of January 2018 ... the visit was an opportunity to reiterate the Security Council's support for the government and the people of Afghanistan and their efforts to restore peace, stability and progress to the country," UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) said in a statement.
Kairat Umarov, the permanent representative of Kazakhstan to the UN, was leading the delegation.
"Council members aimed to get a first-hand account of progress made by the Afghan National Unity Government, with the assistance of the international community, in addressing a wide range of interconnected challenges and to learn how the Security Council could further assist efforts on the ground," the statement said.
The delegation held meetings with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah, and other senior Afghan officials, including chairman of the High Peace Council Mohammad Karim Khalili, and several Afghan ministers, among others.
They also met with members of the parliament, women's NGOs, civil society organizations, representatives of political parties and the electoral management bodies, as well as the leadership of the UNAMA and NATO's Resolute Support Mission or NATO-led coalition.
"Discussions focused on the political, security, socio-economic and human rights situation in the country ... all parties underlined the importance of an inclusive Afghan-led and -owned peace process for long-term stability and prosperity in Afghanistan and council members renewed their commitment to support efforts that aim at bringing peace and reconciliation," the statement read.
The council members reiterated their support for the government's reform initiatives, in particular to counter corruption and accelerate regional cooperation.
They have expressed concerns about the security environment in Afghanistan, including the presence of al-Qaida, Taliban and Islamic State (IS) fighters, as well as about the nexus of terrorism and organized crime.
Afghan election officials, during a meeting, briefed the delegation on the preparations for the upcoming parliamentary and district council elections in 2018, including the development of an improved voter registry.
"Council members underscored the importance of continued progress on electoral reforms and towards the holding of free and fair, as well as timely, credible and inclusive parliamentary and presidential elections in 2018 and 2019, respectively. They reiterated the need to increase women's participation in the election," the statement said.
"Both Security Council members and Afghan officials called for improved cooperation and coordination in the region, underscoring the need for the international community, particularly neighboring countries, to support and cooperate with Afghanistan, especially in countering terrorism." the statement noted.
Foreign dignitaries usually pay unannounced visit to militancy-hit Afghanistan and return secretly due to security concerns.