( RIA Novosti ) - Australia will continue providing military and economic aid to Afghanistan, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd said on Saturday during his surprise visit to the Muslim state.
During talks, which took place hours after French President Nicolas Sarkozy's surprise visit to Afghanistan, Rudd and President Hamid Karzai focused on steps to revive the country's electric power sector and irrigation, as well as measures to counter drug production and trafficking.
Rudd arrived in Afghanistan to give his Christmas greetings to some 900 Australian troops deployed in the country's southern region of Uruzgan as part of a 41,000-strong NATO force.
Karzai thanked Australia for $260 million of aid it already provided. The Australian government plans to give the troubled state another $17 million on economic rehabilitation.
The country has seen a rise in violence in the last two years, its worst crisis since the Taliban regime was overthrown in the 2001 U.S.-led campaign.