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Afghan-Australia Relations (2001-2017)

Published Date: April 8, 2017

 

The Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, heading a high-ranking Afghan delegation, visited Australia on 2 April 2017. In this visit, the Afghan President met the senior Australian official and the Afghan residents of Australia.

In this visit, an agreement between Afghanistan and Australia in constructive areas with a value of $320m was signed, and it is said that Australia would give this money to Afghanistan within four years.  In additions, the two sides agreed to cooperate with each other in areas of infrastructure, education, irrigation and agriculture, education of civilians and fight against corruption.

Here you would read about the background of the Afghanistan-Australia relations, Australian military presence in Afghanistan and the relations between the two countries after the formation of the National Unity Government (NUG).  

 

The Afghan-Australian ties

Based on the information in hand, for the first time in 1860, three Afghans, with 24 camels loaded with goods, arrived in the Melbourne city of Australia, but it is said that before that, in 1838, some Afghans had come to rural areas of Australia and had played a part in spreading Islam in Australia and also in building the first mosque in this country.

Australia, which is the smallest continent of the world, is located far from Afghanistan. Before its military presence in Afghanistan (before 2001), Australia did not play an active role in Afghanistan. After 2001, Australia, within the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), cooperated with Afghanistan in various fields.

Australia sent about 2000 soldiers to Afghanistan who were based in Uruzgan province. At the end of NATO’s mission in Afghanistan in December 2014, a larger part of these troops withdrew from Afghanistan, and currently, 270 soldiers remain in Afghanistan. According to reports, since 2001, 42 Australian soldiers are killed in Afghanistan, and hundreds of others are injured, and Australia’s military expenditures in Afghanistan exceeds millions of dollars.

In addition to sending its troops to Afghanistan, Australia has also assisted Afghanistan in the fields of construction and economy. Afghanistan and Australia signed the agreement of strategic cooperation on 20th May 2012. In this agreement, Australia pledged to support Afghanistan to gain the membership of the World Trade Organization. The agreement could be beneficial for Afghanistan in extending bilateral economic cooperation through private and public sectors, exempting Afghan goods from custom duty and importing Afghan goods without a limited share, providing technical support to standardize Afghan products to be able to be sold in Australian markets and it can also help in providing a safe environment for investment in Afghanistan and the exchange of trade delegations between the two countries.

Besides that, the two countries established the Afghanistan-Australia trade council on 29th May 2013. The council is formed to increase coordination between trading and social community, give information about the country’s economic situation in order to attract both Australian traders and Afghan traders resident in Australia, boost and hasten the trade relations between the Afghan traders and the traders of other countries, exchange of fresh information between the Afghan Chamber of Commerce and Industries and the council and creation of a connecting bridge between the privates sectors of the two countries. [1]

Since 2001 until the formation of the NUG, Australia has contributed more than $700m in aid to Afghanistan and the greatest aid of this country to Afghanistan was $200m in 2008 in Paris Conference. Australia is also a country where thousands of Afghans are resident, and thousands of others are seeking refuge in this country.

 

 

The NUG, Kabul-Canberra relations

Australia is one of the significant donors for the Afghanistan development programs particularly agricultural programs and only in the past two years, this country has donated $130m in aid to Afghanistan. After the establishment of the NUG in Afghanistan, Australian Prime Minister visited Kabul and vowed to assist Afghanistan in various fields. In the Warsaw Conference, held on 7 July 2016, Australia announced to donate $300m in aid to Afghanistan to strengthen Afghan security forces until 2020[2]. In addition, in the Brussels’s Meeting, Australia pledged to give $80m annually to Afghanistan until 2020 and also promised to help in repairing damaged helicopters and equipping the Afghan forces with the anti-mine equipment.[3]

 

Ghani’s first formal visit to Australia

The Afghan President Ashraf Ghani’s recent trip to Australia was his first visit to this country and Ghani is the first Afghan President ever to travel to this country. [4]

In this voyage, Ghani met the Australian Prime Minister, Governor-General, Ministers of Foreign Affairs and Defense, head of Australian Intelligence Agency, Australian scientists/researchers and also the Afghan experts and elders in that country and discussed the relevant issues with them.

In his meeting with Ghani, the Australian Prime Minister reiterated the continual of his respected country’s aid to Afghanistan and said that Australia would remain beside Afghanistan as its international partner. In accordance with the Brussels promises, the Afghan Minister of Economy and the Australian Minister of Foreign Affairs signed the development cooperation agreement for four years (with a value of $320m). The technical and scientific cooperation agreement was also signed between the two countries. [5]

 

Conclusion.

The Afghan President’s visit to Australia is a sign of Afghanistan’s extended relations with important and developed countries of the world. Although after the end of NATO’s mission in Afghanistan Western and other nations have limited ties with Afghanistan, Ghani’s this trip shows that Afghanistan’s foreign policy is expanding and that President Ghani wants to attract aids and attention of the world towards Afghanistan.

Australia is a developed country with a trade and agriculture-based economy. This country has vast experiences in fields of agriculture, livestock, and mining and can share these experiences with Afghanistan. The Afghan officials also discussed water management with Australian experts. Since Afghanistan has vast water resources, Australia’s cooperation in this field could be helpful for Afghanistan. Besides participation in constructing water dams, Australia is also interested in working in the mining field in Afghanistan, and if Australia plays a direct role in mining in Afghanistan, it will be fruitful for the economic development of the country.  

The end

 

[1] The Afghan Chamber of Commerce and Industries, http://www.acci.org.af/da/home/38-news/536-n.html

[2] BBC-Persian, http://www.bbc.com/persian/afghanistan/2016/07/160708_k05_nato_summit_warsaw_afghanistan

[3] The Afghan Ministry of Foreign Affairs, “the detailed report of Brussels Conference on Afghanistan”

[4] The Afghan Presidential Palace, http://president.gov.af/fa/2017/04/03/%D8%B1%D8%A6%DB%8C%D8%B3-%D8%AC%D9%85%D9%87%D9%88%D8%B1-%D8%BA%D9%86%DB%8C-%D8%A8%D8%A7-%DA%AF%D9%88%D8%B1%D9%86%D8%B1-%D8%AC%D9%86%D8%B1%D8%A7%D9%84-%D8%A2%D8%B3%D8%AA%D8%B1%D8%A7%D9%84%DB%8C/

[5] ارگ ریاست جمهوری، http://president.gov.af/fa/2017/04/04/%D8%B1%D8%A6%DB%8C%D8%B3%E2%80%8C%D8%AC%D9%85%D9%87%D9%88%D8%B1%D8%BA%D9%86%DB%8C-%D8%A8%D8%A7-%D8%B5%D8%AF%D8%B1%D8%A7%D8%B9%D8%B8%D9%85-%D8%A2%D8%B3%D8%AA%D8%B1%D8%A7%D9%84%DB%8C%D8%A7-%D8%AF%DB%8C/

 

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