“As we now wind down our military presence in Afghanistan, we will still continue to support progress in the country,” Mr Stoltenberg said.
At the same time as the international military forces are preparing to leave the country, the Afghan authorities are planning next year’s presidential election. The election will determine who is to be President Karzai’s successor, because after two presidential terms he cannot stand for re-election.
“Next year’s election will be a milestone for Afghanistan’s democracy. Both President Karzai and his successor will face major challenges. I made it clear to President Karzai that if Afghanistan fulfils its obligations, Norway will continue its support for the country,” Mr Stoltenberg said.
Norway’s main priorities in Afghanistan are good governance, education and rural development. Norway’s efforts in Afghanistan will continue to be based on human rights considerations, women’s rights and zero tolerance for corruption.
During the visit, President Karzai and Prime Minister Stoltenberg signed a strategic partnership agreement on further development cooperation between Norway and Afghanistan. The agreement reaffirms the obligations the two countries have already undertaken.
At the Chicago Summit and the Tokyo Conference on Afghanistan last year the international community pledged financial support for both the Afghan security forces and the country’s civilian sector.
In addition to his talks with Prime Minister Stoltenberg, President Karzai also met Norwegian Minister of Defence Anne-Grete Strøm-Erichsen, Minister of Foreign Affairs Espen Barth Eide, President of the Storting (the Norwegian parliament) Dag Terje Andersen, members of the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and Defence, and The King.