Norway, Afghanistan sign partnership agreement

2013-02-05 20:11:22 GMT2013-02-06 04:11:22(Beijing Time)  Xinhua English

OSLO, Feb. 5 (Xinhua) -- Norway and Afghanistan signed a long-term partnership agreement on Tuesday on further cooperation after the Norwegian troops pull out from the war-torn country completely in 2014.

Norway pledged to give Afghanistan continuous assistance under the agreement, which was inked after Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg and visiting Afghan President Hamid Karzai met in Oslo on Tuesday afternoon.

Karzai, who arrived in Oslo on Monday from London for a two-day visit, praised Norway for its support since 2002, the last time he visited the rich Nordic country.

Karzai also held discussions with Norwegian Parliament Speaker Dag Terje Andersen and the chief of the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, Ine Marie Eriksen, who brought up the issue of corruption.

Norway has already reduced its military presence in Afghanistan to a few hundred soldiers and officers for training local security personnel.

About 100 Afghans, including 44 English interpreters, who had worked for Norwegian troops in Afghanistan, have applied for asylum in Norway in fear of a threat to their life after Western troops leave the country next year.

Karzai was criticized by one of the interpreters for saying that they could continue to live and work in Afghanistan after 2014.

The unnamed interpreter told the Norwegian-language newspaper VG that Karzai would flee himself next year after Western troops leave.

A presidential election in Afghanistan is scheduled for 2014, which will coincide with the total Western military pull-out.

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