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Norway Remains Committed to Afghan Mission

On January 15, the Norwegian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Jonas Gahr Støre met with President Hamid Karzai at the Presidential Palace in Kabul. Minister Støre led a high-level delegation to visit Afghanistan, in an effort to emphasize the importance of international support for the country. The visit is part of a currently ongoing process in Norway, of developing a comprehensive plan for its further contributions to the reconstruction of Afghanistan.

In their meeting, President Karzai and Minister Støre discussed several issues of mutual concern, including both national and regional security, and the fight against terrorism. Minister Støre made it clear that Norway is committed to contribute to the development of security and stability in Afghanistan. The need for social and economic development in the country was also highlighted, and Minister Støre announced that Norway will increase its assistance to Afghanistan by 50% compared to 2007, reaching over $138 million in 2008.

As a NATO member country, Norway contributes to the ISAF forces, whose UN Security Council mandate was last renewed September 19, 2007. Almost 700 Norwegian troops are participating in the mission, mostly in the northern part of Afghanistan, as part of the Rapid Reaction Forces in Meymaneh and a regional stabilization team in Mazar-e-Sharif.

During his stay in Afghanistan, Minister Støre reinforced Norway’s commitment to Afghanistan and highlighted the significance of empowering Afghans to take the lead in rebuilding their country. He stated that Norway’s goal in Afghanistan is to strengthen state institutions to the point where Afghans can take responsibility for their own security, but cautioned that extensive international contributions are still necessary.

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