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Afghan president signs aid agreement with Norway

OSLO -- Afghanistan and Norway signed a long-term partnership agreement Tuesday during a visit by President Hamid Karzai to the Scandinavian country, amid mutual commitments to combat corruption.

After the signing, Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg said Norway has "zero tolerance against corruption, that is why we are following the Norwegian (aid) money so closely."

Norway was to contribute 750 million kroner (136 million dollars) a year until 2017.

Stoltenberg said that even though Norway was winding down its military presence in Afghanistan, it would remain a partner, and that Afghanistan had committed itself "to promote good governance, the rule of law, human rights, transparency and democracy."

Karzai said: "The Afghan contribution will be that the resources and assistance that Norway provides will be used and spent properly, accountably and for the good of the Afghan people."

Afghanistan would ensure "an environment of security" for its people and the benefit of other countries, he added.

Stoltenberg said, "The fight against international terrorism is a global fight ... and we have to cooperate between different countries," noting the recent hostage crisis in a gas facility in Algeria where five Norwegian nationals were killed.

Karzai said it was "out of the question" that he would stay on as president after 2014, as the constitution does not allow it.

The Afghan leader arrived late Monday from Britain where he attended trilateral talks with his Pakistani counterpart Asif Ali Zardari and British Prime Minister David Cameron.

Karzai also met the Norwegian foreign minister, defence minister, speaker of parliament, members of the foreign affairs and defence committee, and King Harald.

Distributed by MCT Information Services
 

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