Lisbon, Portugal (BBN)– Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said on Saturday that the search for peace through a political process in Afghanistan must be led by the people of that country themselves, and pledged United Nations’ continued support for the efforts to restore security.

“We all recognize that there can be no purely military solution. This process must be Afghan-led, and it must respect the constitution and the rights of all Afghans,” Mr. Ban told the Summit of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) on Afghanistan in Lisbon.

UN chief said that civil, political and human rights of the people of Afghanistan cannot be traded for stability or “saved for later.” “They are crucial for stability and an inherent part of an inclusive approach to peace,” he added.

He said the search for a political solution has entered its initial stage, he said, noting that process will be long and uncertain, with progress and setbacks.

“In accordance with our mandate, my Special Representative has offered – and the High Peace Council has accepted – UN support for such efforts.

Outlining the basic principles that will guide the transition towards 2014, Mr. Ban pointed that although the process was a joint one between the government of Afghanistan and ISAF, it encompassed the Afghan people, the country’s neighbors and the wider region, and had a implications for global security.

In comments to the press at the summit, the Secretary-General paid tribute to soldiers and civilians, both Afghan and international, who have given their lives in the effort to restore security in Afghanistan.

“The costs have been high, but the objective – Afghanistan at peace – remains necessary and just,” he said.

He said the summit had culminated in the adoption of the Lisbon Declaration and the NATO-Afghanistan Partnership Agreement. “These are important steps forward that build on earlier conferences in London and Kabul, and on progress on the ground in Afghanistan,” he said. Afghan institutions have also demonstrated that they can take on increasing leadership and responsibility, he added.

BBN/SI/AD-21Nov10-11:22 am (BST)