By: Mark Leon Goldberg on April 04, 2008 From the UN News Center: Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today pledged the commitment of the United Nations to stay the course in Afghanistan to ensure peace, security and development in the strife-torn nation. “We shall not leave Afghanistan as long as we are needed by the Afghan people,” Mr. Ban told a high-level international meeting convened in Bucharest, Romania, as part of the summit of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). He noted the achievements of recent years such as economic growth, lower infant and maternal mortality rates and an increase in school enrollment. “But these welcome indicators of progress must not obscure the obstacles that we still face,” he added, citing the threat posed by the continuing violence and militancy in various parts of the country and the growing drug economy. Mr. Ban acknowledged that the UN has not been as effective as it needs to be in coordinating the international community, adding that the new Security Council mandate will allow the world body to take a more assertive role in coordination. Read more.