Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen’s first visit to Afghanistan
Mr. Anders Fogh Rasmussen concluded a three-day visit to Afghanistan on 7 August, his first trip abroad since taking up duty as NATO Secretary General on 1 August 2009.
The first day of the visit was spent in the capital Kabul. Demonstrating the international community’s comprehensive approach, Mr. Ramussen met firstly with the UN Special Representative for Afghanistan, Mr. Kai Eide. In the course of their exchange, the Secretary General commended the close cooperation that exists in theatre between NATO, the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) and the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA). He expressed his confidence that this cooperation will continue and develop in the future.
The Secretary General then met with President Hamid Karzai and senior Afghan Ministers, including Minister for Foreign Affairs Dr. Rangin Dadfar-Spanta, Minister for Defence General Abdul Rahim Wardak, and Minister of Interior Mr. Mohammad Hanif Atmar. Participants discussed the impending presidential and provincial council elections and noted the importance of continuing with a strong partnership between the international community and the Afghan government and people following these elections.
Mr. Rasmussen then moved to ISAF Headquarters to meet with the Commander of the International Security Assistance Force, General Stanley A. McChrystal, and was briefed on the latest security developments in country.
On 6 August, the Secretary General travelled to Afghanistan’s second largest city, Kandahar. He met firstly with the Commander of Regional Command South, Maj.Gen. Mart de Kruif, before moving to the village of Dagh-e Bagh in the District of Dand. There Mr. Rasmussen met with the Governor of Kandahar Province, Mr. Tooryaliai Wesa and with Brig.Gen. Jonathan H. Vance, Commander of ISAF’s Task Force Kandahar. The Secretary General and his team witnessed progress on the ground during their visit to a girls’ school in the village.
Later that day, Mr. Rasmussen flew to Lashkar Gah, capital of Helmand Province, where he met with the Governor, Mohammad Golab Mangal, and with the Commander of ISAF’s Task Force Helmand, Brig.Gen. Timothy Radford. An overview of security planning for the 20 August elections was delivered at the Afghan Operational Coordination Centre by Afghan and ISAF commanders.
On his return to Kabul in the evening of 6 August, and while underlining NATO’s total impartiality in the electoral process, the Secretary General met with three of the other presidential candidates, Mr. Mirwais Yasini, Dr. Ashraf Ghani and Dr. Abdullah Abdullah. Following these meetings, Mr. Rasmussen attended a dinner hosted by NATO’s Senior Civilian Representative in Afghanistan, Ambassador Fernando Gentilini.
On the final day of his trip, Mr. Rasmussen visited the Afghan Parliament and met with the Speaker of the Lower House (Wolesi Jirga), Mr. Yunus Qanooni.
A full media programme formed part of the Secretary General’s schedule, including press conferences with Afghan and international media in Kabul and Kandahar Province.