Norwegian Foreign Minister visits Afghanistan
The Norwegian Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Støre recently visited Kabul for the first time since the January attack on the Serena Hotel in which a Norwegian journalist was among the victims.
Mr. Støre had meetings with members of the Afghan parliament, the Foreign Minister, and President Hamid Karzai. The message which came from each meeting was the same: The war on terror can be won, but not by military means alone.
An important stop on the itinerary was made to honour the Norwegian journalist Carsten Thomassen, who was killed in January when he was covering Støre’s last visit. The Afghan education minister Mohammad Hanif Atmar showed architect’s drawings of the library which will be named in memory of Thomassen.
The library will form part of the National Institute for Administration and Management; a college which aims to train future Afghan leaders and which has Norway as its main financial supporter.
As a result of heightened security Mr. Støre stayed with President Karzai.
Foreign minister Jonas Gahr Støre also visited Norwegian ISAF troops in Meymaneh, taking a brief tour with a patrol from the Telemark battalion in Iveco armoured vehicles, and acting as a wounded casualty in a helicopter evacuation exercise.
In contrast to his visit to Kabul, where security was at high level and meetings held in offices and palaces, Gahr Støre “went among the people”, visiting a girls’ school and police station in Meymaneh and buying tea from a local vendor.
Norway plans to build or renovate 100 schools in the Faryab province, and hopes to provide classrooms for all eligible children within 3 years.