No decision yet on post-2014 troop presence: Bildt
Bildt, who arrived in Kandahar City, the capital of southern Kandahar province, on his first-ever visit, held a series of meetings with local officials, including Governor Toryalai Weesa.
He announced Sweden would extend its support to Afghanistan in the area of higher education, promising continued assistance to the Kabul beyond 2014, when foreign combat troops would exit the country.
Bildt said talks with the Kabul government over a post-2014 presence of their soldiers in Afghanistan were underway. About 400 Swedish troops are currently stationed in northern Afghanistan.
He said no decision had been taken so far regarding the troops’ stay in Afghanistan beyond the planned withdrawal, but consultations with allies and the government of Afghanistan, especially with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, were ongoing.
The foreign minister said next year's presidential elections in Afghanistan were crucial to establishing peace and bringing about stability to the country.
Weesa, who called Bildt's visit as important, stressed the need for continued cooperation between Sweden and Afghanistan. He acknowledged Sweden had played a major role in Afghanistan's development and countering terrorism in the region.
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