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    Karzai set to ink strategic pact with Italy

    KABUL (PAN): President Hamid Karzai is to sign a strategic partnership agreement with Italy during his ongoing trip to Europe, his office said on Thursday.

    Karzai left Kabul for the United Kingdom (UK) on a five-day trip on Tuesday. He would also ink strategic partnership agreements on long-term cooperation with France and Italy.

    The Presidential Palace said Karzai would sign a strategic pact with Italy on continued assistance to Afghanistan in areas of politics, security, economy, counternarcotics, law enforcement and capacity-building.    

    In a statement, the palace said Karzai during a meeting with his Italian counterpart, Giorgio Napolitano, exchanged views on the current situation in Afghanistan.

    "We are pleased to ink a long-term strategic partnership agreement with the Italian government and appreciate the aid and scarifies of Italian soldiers for Afghanistan's stability," the statement quoted Karzai as saying.

    "Afghanistan is on the path to stability and I believe the country's clock would never turn back," the president said, ruling out the possibility Afghanistan would plunge again into civil war after foreign troops' withdrawal.

    Napolitano said his country would continue to assist the Afghan government despite unrest at home over Italian troops' casualties in Afghanistan.