German consulate set to open in Mazar-i-Sharif
KABUL (PAN): Pledging long-term support to Afghanistan, Germany on Saturday announced opening its consulate in Mazar-i-Sharif, the provincial capital of Balkh province, to provide consular services to the people and businesses in the north.
At a joint press conference with his Afghan counterpart Dr. Zalmai Rassoul, German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said up to 800 German troops would stay in Afghanistan beyond 2014, playing a support role.
Germany would continue lending its weight to efforts at combating anti-corruption, improving governance and strengthening civil society in Afghanistan, he said, after arriving in Kabul for an unannounced visit.
“The opening of a German consulate in Mazar-i-Sharif is a strong sign for the people of Afghanistan that we want robust and cooperative relation with this country,” the visiting dignitary remarked.
Speaking on the occasion, Rassoul said they had discussed the peace process, preparations for next year’s presidential elections and the role of Germany in Afghanistan after the withdrawal of foreign troops.
He welcomed German assistance and commitment to expanding ties with Afghanistan, saying they would inaugurate the Mazar-i-Sharif Airport that was rebuilt with the help of Berlin and the consulate in the northern city.
Westerwelle also met President Hamid Karzai and discussed with him the planned withdrawal of German combat troops and the 2014 presidential elections.
The president informed him that the reconciliation process with the Taliban was being monitored closely by his administration.
Calling peace the most basic demand of the people, Karzai promised his administration would not allow anyone to exploit the nation’s genuine desire for stability.
The visiting minister urged the Afghan government to fight corruption and ensure the rule of law.
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