Norway’s Defence Minister visits Afghanistan
Norwegian Minister of Defence, H.E Mrs. Anne- Grete Strøm-Erichsen paid a visit to Afghanistan from 3- 5 December. During her stay, the Minister met with her Afghan counterpart, Afghanistan’s Minister of Defence, H.E Mr. Bismullah Khan Mohammadi as well as Norwegian and Afghan forces, leading Afghan politicians and female parliamentarians.
Norwegian Minister of Defence, H.E Mrs. Anne- Grete Strøm-Erichsen paid a visit to Afghanistan from 3- 5 December. During her stay, the Minister met with her Afghan counterpart, Afghanistan’s Minister of Defence, H.E Mr. Bismullah Khan Mohammadi as well as Norwegian and Afghan forces, leading Afghan politicians and female parliamentarians. This was Mrs. Strøm- Erichsen’s 11th visit to the country, and the Minister stated that progress has been made since her last visit three years ago: “Things are going better and people are more optimistic,but there is still a lot of work to be done”, Mrs. Strøm- Erichsen said.
In her meeting with the Afghan Minister of Defence, Mrs. Strøm-Erichsen was briefed on the build-up of the Afghan security forces and the Afghan police. After the meeting, the Norwegian Minister of Defence said that she had received clear signals that Afghanistan is ready and prepared to take over the security responsibility, adding that the Afghans would like continued aid in terms of training and advising in the years to come. She also underlined that Norway is a long-term partner of Afghanistan: “Norway will make a substantial contribution to Afghanistan also in the future, especially with financial support to the Afghan security forces and civilian development aid”.
Another important post on the Defence Minister’s agenda was a meeting with two female Afghan parliamentarians, Ms. Shukria Barakzai and Ms. Najia Zawari, as well as the women’s rights activist Ms. Hasina Safi. Mrs. Strøm- Erichsen stressed the importance of continued focus on women’s role in Afghanistan and stated that great deal of progress has been made: “Child and maternal mortality has gone down and more girls are enrolled in school”. She underlined, however, that there remains a great deal of work before Afghan women at all levels can take part in the progress and expressed her full and utter support to all Afghan women.
During her stay in Afghanistan Mrs. Strøm- Erichsen also visited the Norwegian forces in Mazar-e-Sharif, where she took part in a ceremony held to honor the Norwegian soldiers who lost their lives in Afghanistan.