CHICAGO - President Hamid Karzai and Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard on Monday signed a strategic partnership agreement on cooperation in security, economic development and trade.
The signing took place in Chicago, where the two leaders are attending the 25th NATO summit, at which Afghanistan's future is being debated as a central issue.
After signing the accord, Gillard told a press conference Australia would not abandon Afghanistan and her government would give Afghan forces $100 million over three consecutive years, starting after 2015.
Expressing satisfaction with the agreement, Karzai hailed Australian as "a kind friend of Afghans." Currently 1,600 Australian soldiers are based in Afghanistan, mostly in the Central Uruzgan province, and 32 of them have lost their lives so far in combat operations.
Australia was the seventh nation to sign a strategic pact with Afghanistan. Under the deal, in the area of security, Australia reaffirmed its commitment to address long-term transnational threats, including terrorism, narcotics, people smuggling and organized crime.
It will work together with other international community members to assist Afghan forces in countering threats of international terrorist groups, and to promote the national security of Afghanistan during transition, as well as after 2014.
Afghanistan will be responsible for its own security after foreign troops leave in 2014. (Pajhwok)