Norway positive to new US strategy for Afghanistan

Minister of Foreign Affairs Jonas Gahr Støre

Minister of Foreign Affairs Jonas Gahr Støre

“A stronger and broader US involvement in order to ensure development and stability in Afghanistan is important, and this gives direction to the international efforts that Norway is supporting, Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Støre commented, following President Barack Obama’s presentation of the new U.S. strategy for Afghanistan in a speech Dec. 1.

The strategy means that the United States will send a further 30,000 troops to Afghanistan, in addition to significantly increasing its civilian efforts. In his speech, President Obama underlined that the Afghan authorities must gradually take over responsibility for development and security in the country, and that the U.S. involvement is not open-ended.

“The overall objective of the U.S. strategy is to enable the Afghan people to govern and further develop their country. This requires the continued presence and active involvement of the international community, both in civilian and military terms. The intensified US efforts will be important for implementing the mandate the U.N. Security Council has been given for Afghanistan,” Mr. Støre commented.

“The course that President Obama is now staking out is the result of a thorough process. Norway values the close consultations between the US and its allies and other ISAF partners. The strategy highlights the need to implement measures that can help strengthen the ability and capacity of the Afghan authorities to fulfil their own responsibilities, both with regard to security and development,” Mr. Støre said.

“We are pleased that the U.S. intends to place greater emphasis on protecting the civilian population and on civilian capacity-building. It is capacity-building of this kind that can pave the way for a gradual scaling down of the international military presence in the country. This is an approach that we have also prioritized in Norway’s efforts in Afghanistan,” Mr Støre commented.

“Close cooperation and coordination between the international community and the Afghan authorities will be required. In supporting an Afghan government, it is important to keep in mind that the effect of international efforts, both civilian and military, depends on the quality of this government. We must therefore expect the Afghan Government to initiate resolute reforms and demonstrate an ability to implement these. This includes delivering measurable results in combating corruption and countering drug production. I note that President Obama is expressing clear expectations of this kind of the Afghan Government, and that he opens the way for reconsidering assistance to the country in the light of Afghan performance,” the Foreign Minister said.

“For its part, the international community must become far better at coordinating its civilian efforts, and at aligning aid and assistance with Afghan priorities. We agree with President Obama on the significance of close cooperation between the United Nations, other international partners and the Afghan people in order to pursue a more effective civilian strategy. A high-priority task in the weeks ahead will be to strengthen coordination mechanisms and ensure that international expertise is made available in the appropriate manner,” Mr Støre commented.

Norway’s considerable civilian and military involvement in Afghanistan will be continued. In the period 2008–2012, Norway will annually provide NOK 750 million in assistance. Norway has 515 troops in Afghanistan and is prepared to maintain its current level of participation in ISAF.

Source: Ministry of Foreign Affairs

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