International conference on strengthening the rule of law opened

Bilal Basharat from Kabul
A two-day international conference on strengthening the rule of law and justice sector in Afghanistan opened today in Rome, the Capital of Italy.
After a day of closed-door technical discussions, Afghan President Hamid Karzai, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and NATO chief Jaap De Hoop Scheffer and Italian Foreign Minister Massimo D'Alema are scheduled to address the moot today.

At the beginning of the UN-sponsored conference, attended by more than 25 countries and advocacy groups, the host government pledged 10 million euros to help rebuild the Afghan judiciary.

Also in Rome for participation in the event, US Ambassador to United Nations Zalmay Khalilzad regretted the killing of ordinary Afghans in NATO operations against Taliban insurgents.

"It's unfortunate that civilians are caught in these operations at times. Sometimes it happens; weapons go awry as war is not a perfect science," the ambassador told reporters.

However, he insisted the foreign troops tried their best to avoid the collateral damage.

Ahead of flying into Rome, the UN chief told journalists in Geneva the main objective of his last week's surprise trip to Kabul was to have first-hand information and discussions with Afghan leaders before the meet.

Important documents highlighting government priorities in the justice sector, a plan for donors and an outline of the National Justice Programme for Afghanistan will be presented at the conference.

Ban Ki-Moon and Karzai will likely discuss how to arrest continuing violence and avoid civilian deaths in Afghanistan.
The UN chief said he had urged military commanders to ensure that common citizens were not harmed in their operations.

Bilal Basharat

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