'Mission accomplished' in Afghanistan: Sunde

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Photo: Gorm Kallestad/Scanpix
15:40 CEST+02:00
As Norway prepares to pull troops out of Afghanistan, army chief Harald Sunde says he’s confident the Taliban will never return to power.

“I’m optimistic with regard to all of Afghanistan,” Sunde told newspaper Aftenposten.

One of the architects of the international military intervention in Afghanistan, Sunde previously headed up a NATO planning division that played a key role in the creation of the ISAF security mission.

“The Afghans are an honest people, but they have major ethnic challenges,” said Sunde, pointing especially to eastern parts of the country near the border with Pakistan.

“The country will change over the coming period, but it will never fully revert to the old Taliban rule.”

According to the head of the Norwegian Armed Forces, the Taliban has indicated a willingness both to enter into a ceasefire and to accept a continued American military presence in the country.

“This is ‘mission accomplished’,” said Sunde, using the English-language term.

“We have made a significant and honorable effort on behalf of the Afghan people. I have myself been here countless times and seen improvements for the better,” he added.

Norway’s Ministry of Defence revealed in April that the country would withdraw all its forces from Faryab province this autumn.

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"The process of transferring responsibility for security in Faryab to the Afghans is already well underway as the Afghans themselves have been leading military operations in the province for a long time,” said Defence Minister Espen Barth Eide in a statement at the time.

The ministry said Norway will continue its military engagement in Kabul and Mazar-e-Sharif and will keep some forces in Afghanistan until the end of 2014, when NATO’s combat mission ends. 

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