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Visit of Afghan Foreign Minister Dr Abdullah Abdullah.



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MEDIA RELEASE MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS ALEXANDER DOWNER

FA167 13 November 2002

VISIT OF AFGHAN FOREIGN MINISTER DR ABDULLAH ABDULLAH

I welcome the visit to Australia by the Minister for Foreign Affairs in the Afghan Transitional Administration, Dr Abdullah Abdullah. Dr Abdullah is the first member of the Afghan Transitional Administration to visit since its establishment earlier this year.

Our meeting today will be a valuable opportunity to discuss the current situation in Afghanistan and the Transitional Administration’s plans and priorities to rebuild their country after more than two decades of conflict. I will confirm Australia’s continuing strong support for Afghanistan’s government and its reconstruction efforts.

Since September 2001 Australia has contributed $51.9 million in emergency, humanitarian and reconstruction assistance to Afghanistan. This complements the role of the Australian Defence Force as part of coalition forces in Afghanistan.

$4 million of our aid contribution is supporting UNICEF’s program to rebuild basic education in Afghanistan, one of the Transitional Administration’s key priorities. Girls’ education is an important focus of this program.

The Government also is allocating a number of Australian Development Scholarships in 2003 to help Afghanistan rebuild long-term capabilities.

Dr Abdullah’s visit marks an important step in the restoration of friendly ties between the people of Australia and the people of Afghanistan.

Media enquiries: Chris Kenny (Ministerial) 0419 206 890 Lyndall Sachs (Departmental) 02 6261 1555