KABUL - President Hamid Karzai has returned to Kabul from a visit to three European nations, signing long-term cooperation agreements with Finland and Denmark, his office said on Friday.
On the last leg of his trip, the president held wide-ranging talks with Danish Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt in Copenhagen on expanding bilateral cooperation between the two countries
Denmark's military and civilian engagement with Afghanistan after the 2014 withdrawal of foreign combat troops also prominently figured at the meetings Karzai held with Danish leaders, including foreign and defense ministers.
Karzai and Thorning-Schmidt inked the long-term partnership agreement, affirming Denmark’s commitment to staying engaged in Afghanistan beyond its military pullout. Denmark has been in the war-torn country for more than 11 years.
While promising to help foster Afghanistan’s progress, the pact stresses Kabul must take full responsibility for its political, social and economic development. After 2014, Afghanistan will be solely responsible for its security, it adds.
At a joint news conference, Karzai thanked Thorning-Schmidt for Denmark's valuable contribution to Afghanistan’s stability and progress. He tended to downplay reports that the lives of Afghan interpreters with coalition forces are in danger in the country.
Under the accord, Denmark will continue to aid Afghanistan through the transformation decade. Fifty percent of Danish assistance will be spent through the Afghan budget.
As NATO-led soldiers prepare to leave next year, security and development remain key issues for the impoverished landlocked nation. With this in mind, Afghanistan has signed similar agreements with the US, Britain, Italy, Germany, France, Norway and India.
During the meetings with Danish officials, the president said future aid should focus on education, rural development and protection of the rights of women as well as children. (Pajhwok)