2 December 2009Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today welcomed the new United States plan for Afghanistan announced by President Barack Obama, and said the United Nations remains committed to supporting a transition to increased Afghan ownership, responsibility and leadership for peace and development in the country. In a televised speech on Tuesday, Mr. Obama unveiled his new strategy for Afghanistan, which includes the deployment of 30,000 more American troops, along with efforts to build the capacity of Afghan institutions. Mr. Ban noted with appreciation the “proposed approach to balance military and civilian efforts and the emphasis on strengthening the capacity of Afghan institutions and Afghan security forces in particular,” his spokesperson said in a statement. “The Secretary-General strongly feels that institution-building is a long-term but necessary process that will ultimately ensure the sustainability of the international community’s joint efforts in Afghanistan,” the statement added.Ahead of Mr. Obama’s speech, the top UN envoy to Afghanistan had stated that the building up of Afghan institutions was vital to a transition strategy and could help ensure that the gains achieved so far are not lost. “It really means pushing more and more responsibilities on to the Afghan authorities, allowing them to take more responsibilities,” the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Afghanistan, Kai Eide, told reporters in the capital, Kabul, yesterday. “If we are to deliver services to the people, it can’t be done by international parallel structures. It has to be done by Afghan institutions. That’s going to take time, but the longer we wait the more time it will take,” he added.