“I am looking forward to getting a first-hand impression of the situation in the country. The international engagement in Afghanistan is in a transitional phase: Afghan security forces are gradually taking over responsibility for security and the country is preparing for presidential elections in 2014,” said Mr Støre.
“Although the military efforts will gradually be scaled down, Norway’s considerable civilian engagement in Afghanistan will be continued,” he added.
Mr Støre’s visit will include meetings with President Karzai, other politicians and Afghan civil society representatives. During the course of the year, Norway and Afghanistan will sign a strategic cooperation agreement that will set the framework for their bilateral relations. Priority areas will be good governance, education and rural development.
“Norway will continue to promote good governance in Afghanistan. It is particularly important to strengthen the rights of women and improve their situation. It is encouraging to see that, just ten years after they were denied schooling under the Taliban, 40 % of school children are now girls. But there is still a long way to go,” said Mr Støre.