Norway Pledges $125m Afghanistan Reconstruction, $25m to Security

Norway’s Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg pledged $125 million per annum towards Afghanistan’s reconstruction efforts and a further $25 million to be spent on security in the wake of the NATO summit in Chicago earlier this week.

Stolten berg met with Afghan President Hamid Karzai on the sidelines of the summit, Karzai’s office said Tuesday in a statement.

The two leaders discussed bilateral relations, the peace process, transition of security responsibility to the Afghan security forces, and the formal cooperation document between the two nations, the statement said.

The Norwegian premier emphasized the importance of cooperation between the two nations and expressed the hope that the strategic cooperation document between the two nations would soon be signed.

He added that his country shall expand its assistance to children’s health, education, and higher education in Afghanistan.

Karzai expressed his appreciation for the support and emphasized that the continuation of peace and reconciliation work was “one of the important priorities of Afghanistan.”

Karzai appreciated the declaration of support and assistance by different countries of the world to Afghanistan at the NATO conference.

Norway has around 525 troops in Afghanistan, most of the based in the Maymana district of the northern Faryab province.

The two-day NATO summit closed with the alliance members and partner nations formally agreeing to the US-backed drawdown of foreign forces from Afghanistan over the next two and a half years.

A joint declaration from the leaders of the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) affirmed the commitment of the group to stick to the plan of remaining in Afghanistan until the end of 2014, and to continue to support the country beyond that date.

Both the US President Barack Obama and Karzai addressed the international leaders with warnings that the risks of terrorism taking hold in Afghanistan again were very high.

“More than a decade into this fight, terrorism remains a serious threat, and extremism and radicalism are on the rise,” Karzai said Monday.

The annual cost of sustaining Afghan security forces is estimated to be $4.1 billion per year, and a key aim for Obama and Karzai was to keep the pressure on NATO’s member states to not back down financially while they are confronting ongoing economic crises.

Germany, Britain and Australia have already made similar pledges to Norway’s amounting to at least $400 million per year for the first three years after 2014. The US is set to pay at least half of the estimated figure each year.

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