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Italian PM visits Afghanistan

Nov. 4, 2012 at 2:29 PM

KABUL, Afghanistan, Nov. 4 (UPI) -- Italy will continue its support for Afghanistan after the last of its combat troops pull out, Prime Minister Mario Monti said Sunday.

About 4,000 Italian soldiers in Afghanistan will be withdrawn by 2014 in accordance with NATO's timetable; however, Monti said Rome would continue to develop the economic and business ties it has with the Afghan government.

"It will be a presence based less on military contributions," Monti said at a Kabul news conference with Afghan Prime Minister Hamid Karzai. "It will be a presence based far more on economic cooperation."

Monti said the areas of cooperation specifically included political institution building and venture involving mining Afghanistan's mineral resources.

CNN said Monti made a surprise visit to an Italian unit in Herat this weekend that coincided with Italy's Armed Forces Day holiday.

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