UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The U.N. Security Council on Tuesday extended authorization for the NATO-led force in Afghanistan for a year and welcomed the agreement to gradually transfer full responsibility for security in the country to the Afghan government by the end of 2014.
A resolution adopted unanimously by the council also welcomed the government's "strong commitment" to develop a national security force under civilian leadership that can contribute to the region's security by stabilizing the situation in Afghanistan.
The U.N.'s most powerful body expressed serious concern at the current security situation in Afghanistan and stressed that many challenges remain.
The Security Council had tentatively scheduled a trip to Afghanistan in late October, but diplomats said it has been delayed partly because of security concerns.
The Afghan war began its 12th year on Sunday amid fears that once international combat forces leave in just over two years the country will again fracture along ethnic lines and there will be a repeat of the bloody ethnic fighting that followed the Soviet exit from Afghanistan in the 1990s.
The Security Council singled out continuing terrorist activities by the Taliban, al-Qaida and other extremist and armed groups and condemned their use of civilians as human shields. It expressed serious concern at the high number of civilian casualties, especially among women and children, noting that an increasingly large number are caused by the Taliban, al-Qaida and armed groups.