Foreign Minister Spanta meets Swedish counterpart
Dr. Rangin Dadfar Spanta, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Afghanistan, today met with his Swedish counterpart, Mr. Carl Bilt, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Sweden. The Swedish Foreign Minister was on his first visit to Afghanistan to meet with H.E. President Karzai and Foreign Minister Spanta and visit the contingent of 400 Swedish forces stationed in Mazari-i-Sharif.
At the meeting, the two sides discussed a range of issues, including preparation for up-coming Presidential elections, the combat against terrorism and narcotics, good-governance and the role of the United Nations Assistance Mission to Afghanistan (UNAMA).
The Swedish Foreign Minister reiterated his government’s long-term commitment to Afghanistan’s stabilization efforts. In that regard, he stated that the annual support of the Swedish government, which currently stands at $50 million, would continue. However, according to the Swedish Foreign Minister, considerations were underway to increase that amount.
With regard to security, both sides stressed the importance of increasing the operational capacity of Afghan security forces, particularly the Afghan police. To that effect, the Swedish Foreign Minister stated that his government would render efforts to encourage an increased role by the European Union (EU) in the training of the Afghan police.
On narcotics, the Foreign Minister of Sweden welcomed the reduction in the cultivation and production of narcotics as an important step towards addressing the scourge. Both sides highlighted the importance of comprehensive strategy to combat narcotics, one which should focus on elimination of farms that which produce opium, provision of alternative livelihoods to farmers and combating trafficking of the illicit drug.
Moreover, both Foreign Ministers Spanta and Bilt underscored the importance of an increased role by UNAMA for coordinating international efforts in Afghanistan. Among other issues, Foreign Minister Spanta briefed his counterpart on recent Afghan efforts to combat corruption and strengthen good-governance. In that regard, he alluded to the recently established Independent Anti-Corruption Administration.
Following their meeting, Foreign Ministers Spanta and Bilt took part in a joint press conference where the two sides briefed participants on their meeting and took questions from the media.