EU's Solana visits Afghanistan, Pakistan

Other News Materials 21 April 2008 10:12 (UTC +04:00)

(dpa) - The European Union's foreign policy chief, Javier Solana, arrived in Kabul on Monday for a short diplomatic tour of the region that will also see him visit Pakistan on Tuesday.

The trip, which had been kept under wraps for security reasons, is Solana's third to Afghanistan and his fourth to Pakistan in his capacity as top EU foreign policy representative.

While in Kabul, Solana was expected to hold talks with Afghan President Hamid Karzai, government ministers and the speakers of parliament. Solana also planned to meet officials from NATO's International Security Assistance Force and Kai Eide, the UN's Special Representative for Afghanistan.

His first engagement in Kabul was a visit to the headquarters of the EU's police (EUPOL) training mission in Afghanistan, officials from Solana's office in Brussels said.

Since June of last year, some 230 EUPOL officials have been training the upper echelons of the Afghan security forces. EUPOL is also assisting other Western training missions and is now spreading its operations to cover the whole country.

While in Pakistan, Solana was due to meet President Pervez Musharraf, as well as the country's prime minister and party leaders.

Brussels sent an election monitoring team of about 140 to Pakistan, and officials say the EU's diplomatic efforts have helped convince Musharraf of the need to end the country's state of emergency and stage what have been judged as reasonably fair and democratic parliamentary elections in February.

While in Islamabad, Solana was expected to reiterate the EU's support for the democratic process in Pakistan.

"We have to continue to show our support and engagement, in particular after the (recent) political developments (in Pakistan)," an official from Solana's office said ahead of the trip.