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Published: 4 april 2012 16:33

Lithuania pledges continued support for Ghor after troops are recalled from Afghanistan

Vyr. ltn. Andriaus Česnausko nuotr. / Pratybos

Lithuanian Minister of Foreign Affairs Audronius Ažubalis has said Vilnius will continue providing support for Afghanistan's Ghor province even after Lithuanian troops deployed there are withdrawn by the end of 2013.

Ažubalis made the statement on Wednesday during a conference on the development of Ghor province in Kabul and the a meeting with Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai.

"Lithuania will continue providing development support and will assist in strengthening civilian and military capabilities even after the handover of security responsibility is finished. We will continue contributing to the reconstruction of Ghor province by providing support for strengthening administrative capabilities, rural development, healthcare and putting the Ghor issue on the agenda of international meetings," the minister said.

The capital city of Ghor province, Chaghcharan, and the surrounding areas were included last autumn into the scheme of handing security responsibility over to local forces. Ažubalis said efforts should be made for the entire province of Ghor to be included in this process.

"Now we have to join our efforts for the third wave of the handover process to be launched in Ghor's entire territory. It would be a significant step towards Afghanistan government assuming full responsibility for its people and the country," the Lithuanian foreign minister said.

At the meeting with Afghanistan's president, Ažubalis underlined that Lithuania planned to lead the Provincial Reconstruction Team in Ghor province till the end of 2013.

"During the remaining time, the team will train Afghanistan's police and military forces so they are ready to take over full responsibility for security," Ažubalis said.

At the moment, the 14th shift of the Provincial Reconstruction Team is serving in Ghor. Lithuanians have led the team since the summer of 2005. Troops from Georgia, Japan, the United States, Poland, Finland and Ukraine have also worked in the team's camp in Chaghcharan.

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