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Afghanistan

German President Gauck meets with Afghanistan's Karzai

President Gauck has met with Afghan President Karzai for talks on civil and development cooperation in Kabul. Gauck has assured Afghans of Germany’s ongoing support after the withdrawal of foreign troops in 2014.

German President Joachim Gauck was received with military honors at the Presidential Palace in Kabul on Tuesday to meet with Afghan President Hamid Karzai.

In a joint press conference with Gauck, Karzai hailed the handover of security to national forces and the withdrawal of NATO troops.

"The transition is good. The withdrawal of forces is good. The international forces and [western] countries will stay in Afghanistan in a different format and a different form," he said.

"The transition to Afghan authority and the withdrawal of international forces is not a challenge for Afghanistan," Karzai told reporters.

Gauck assured Afghans of Germany's ongoing support after the withdrawal of foreign military forces in 2014, “We believe that lasting peace is possible,” he told reporters. However, Gauck also urged further reforms for the country.

"Democratization must continue," he said and called in particular for progress on human rights as Afghanistan had "not yet completed all the steps successfully."

Gauck was scheduled to meet with Muslim religious scholars later in the day.

He arrived in Afghanistan on Monday, accompanied by his partner Daniela Schadt. The two visited the German base at Mazar-i-Sharif, where 2,000 of the German military contingent of 4,500 personnel are based. Gauck thanked soldiers, police and aid workers for their work.

It is Gauck's first visit to Afghanistan since taking office. His predecessor, Christian Wulff, visited the war-torn country in October 2011.

hc/dr (dpa, dapd)