Afghan President Hamid Karzai, on his visit to Norway, and Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg have signed an agreement on strategic partnership between Norway and Afghanistan.
In the agreement, Afghanistan makes a commitment to good governance and combating corruption in exchange for continued Norwegian assistance.
"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.
“In my talks with President Karzai today, I stressed that Norway intends to provide long-term support for Afghanistan. We will therefore continue our civilian assistance to the country, even after the period leading up to 2014 when we will be winding down our military contribution,” Minister of Foreign Affairs Espen Barth Eide commented.
The agreement between Norway and Afghanistan is based on mutual commitments. Norway will continue to provide development assistance, and the Afghan authorities will intensify their efforts in the areas of human rights, women’s rights, governance and anti-corruption. The agreement reaffirms the framework agreed on by the international community and Afghanistan at the Bonn and Tokyo conferences.
“We need to be absolutely sure that the substantial amounts of funding we are providing to Afghanistan are being used effectively. Good governance and efforts to combat corruption are therefore an important part of the agreement,” Mr Eide said.
Afghanistan has long been high on Norway’s agenda, in both military and civilian terms. Norway will continue to provide an annual allocation of NOK 750 million to the country until 2017. Norway gives priority to education, good governance and rural development, and women’s rights and anti-corruption efforts are important considerations within these areas.
“The Afghan people deserve a better future. First and foremost, this is the responsibility of the Afghan authorities, but they will continue to need help and aid from other countries, including Norway,” Mr Eide said.
President Karzai and Foreign Minister Eide also discussed developments in the political reconciliation process in Afghanistan, as well as developments in the regional dialogue, including between Afghanistan and Pakistan.
“There are a number of indications that progress has been made, both in the ongoing reconciliation process within Afghanistan and in Afghanistan’s dialogue with its neighbouring countries,” Mr Eide said.