Italian troops to remain in Afghanistan

Afghan President Hamid Karzai (R) and Italian Prime Minister Enrico Letta attend a joint press conference at the presidential palace in Kabul on August 25, 2013.

Italian Prime Minister Enrico Letta says Italy will continue to be militarily present in Afghanistan even after 2014, when foreign forces are due to leave the country.

Speaking in a joint press conference with Afghan President Hamid Karzai in Kabul on Sunday, Letta said that he would hold talks with Karzai about the presence of Italian troops beyond 2014 within the multilateral framework.

He added that as the US-led NATO mission “will end in 2014, our presence will be completely different.”

Letta said Italian troops will train and assist Afghan security forces.

Karzai welcomed the presence of Italian troops in Afghanistan beyond 2014.

“I can tell you with confidence that Afghanistan welcomes an Italian presence after 2014. (That) presence in the past 12 years has been one of dedication and help the Afghan people that they appreciate it,” he said.

“Now, the presence of Italian troops after 2014 in terms of security arrangement will be … up to the Italian government to agree. Afghanistan will go along with any decision that Italy will make in this regard,” Karzai pointed out.

Italy reportedly has about 4,000 soldiers in Afghanistan, serving with the US-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF). Italian troops are mostly stationed in Afghanistanâ„¢s western province of Herat.

According to official figures released by the website icasualties.org, 84 Italian troops have been killed in Afghanistan since Italy began deploying troops in the Asian country in 2002.

The United States and its allies invaded Afghanistan as part of Washingtonâ„¢s so-called war on terror. The offensive removed the Taliban from power, but the country is still gripped by insecurity.

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Republished from: Press TV