July 11th, 2011

Foreign ministry says number of Hungarian troops in Afghanistan may be slightly reduced

Hungary will take into consideration NATO announcements on troop withdrawals from Afghanistan when working out its mid-term Afghanistan strategy, Peter Sztaray, the Foreign Ministry’s political director, said in Nepszava daily’s Friday edition.

Sztaray, who is coordinator for Afghanistan-Pakistan, was asked in connection with US President Barack Obama’s recent announcement on the start of withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan this month.

When drawing up the mid-term concept it will be assessed how Hungary could optimise its contribution, taking into consideration the needs of Afghanistan, the security situation there and the international community’s strategy position, he said.

In the next two years no major change is expected in Hungary’s contribution to missions there, but there may be cuts in the number of Hungarian troops.

A larger reduction in troops can only be made with the consent of ISAF’s command, depending also on the security situation in that country, primarily in the northern province of Baghlan, where most Hungarians serve.

He noted that during a recent Budapest visit by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban said the policy for Afghanistan is “to go in together and come out together.”

Hungary has some 500 Hungarian troops serving in Afghanistan, most of whom are involved in training programmes, Defence Minister Csaba Hende said earlier.

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