The Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi said at a press conference on Tuesday that Italy will remain in Afghanistan in 2016 “in order to fight terrorism.”
“They (the Italian soldiers in Afghanistan) are women and men who are doing a precious job. In 2016 they will also continue to work side-by-side with the United States and the international coalition – hand-in-hand with our Afghan brothers, in order to fight terrorism,” Renzi said.
His statement comes after a meeting with President Ashraf Ghani, who thanked Italian forces for their help and expressed his hope that the Italian Senate would “extend the mission of the Italian forces.”
Ghani said: “I want to say thank you to the Italian forces for being a catalyst of stability and security. I hope, Mr. Prime Minister, that tomorrow the Italian parliament will extend the mission of the Italian forces, vis-a-vis a resolute support mission, because that will be the statement that we together do not surrender to threats or force, but support a mission of value and values.”
“Europe and Afghanistan, Italy and Afghanistan, are not now two distant locations but two allies, united by common threats. And the issue of, you stress, on a counter-narrative is essential. What is under attack by terrorist organisations is freedom. Belief in rule of law, belief in freedom of movement,” according to Ghani.
This comes while NATO foreign ministers agreed earlier on Tuesday to keep about 12,000 troops in Afghanistan through next year, while pushing forward with a funding drive to help the country through 2020.
Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg confirmed the commitments – roughly 7,000 US troops and 5,000 from other NATO member states and partners.