The U.N. Security Council Monday unanimously adopted a resolution extending the world body's presence in Afghanistan for another year, while stressing the need to ensure credible presidential and provincial polls in war-torn country next August, media reports say.

Resolution 1868 renewed the mandate of the U.N. Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) until March 23, 2010, and pressed for all efforts to be made to ensure the credibility, safety and security of the elections.

The 15-member body also decided that the mission and the U.N. secretary-general's Special Representative, Norwegian Kai Eide, will continue to lead international civilian efforts in the country to boost cooperation with the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) at all levels and throughout the country in order to improve civil-military cooperation.

The council also urged strengthened efforts to improve governance and the rule of law and to combat corruption at the local and national levels and to promote development initiatives at the local level.

The text, which was drafted by Japan, recognized UNAMA's key role in supporting the electoral process and stressed the importance of bolstering and expanding its presence as well as that of other U.N. bodies.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon welcomed the renewal of UNAMA's mandate and particularly the council's reaffirmation of the U.N.'s central and impartial role in promoting peace and stability in Afghanistan.

The secretary-general also warmly welcomes the Security Council's recognition of. Eide's leadership, who is working closely with Afghan political leaders, has led the efforts of the international community to set priorities and rationalize their assistance to Afghanistan, Ban's spokesperson said in a statement issued here on Monday.

Among the efforts include supporting the government's efforts to improve governance and the rule of law and fight corruption, as well as facilitating the delivery of humanitarian assistance.

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