Afghanistan is on the cusp of signing a strategic agreement with Australia following the visit of Australia's Defense Minister to Kabul on Wednesday.
Australian Defense Minister Stephen Smith said Australia is interested in forging a strategic partnership with Afghanistan during his meeting with Afghan President Hamid Karzai at the Presidential Palace, according to a statement from Karzai's office.
The draft of the strategic partnership document has been given to the Afghan Ministry of Foreign Affairs for review and is expected to be signed by the leaders of the two nations during the Nato conference in May, the statement said.
"Smith stressed that Australia is also interested in long-term cooperation with Afghanistan and gave assurances that the international community would not leave Afghans alone beyond 2014," it said.
Smith had visited Australian defense forces in southern Afghanistan before the meeting and told Karzai he believed Uruzgan province was "fully prepared" for the third phase of security transition.
Karzai's office said the President thanked Australia for its assistance and cooperation with Afghanistan, especially in building education in Uruzgan, and that the government would review the draft agreement quickly in order for it to be approved by the time of the Nato summit.
Afghanistan is also expected to sign a long-term strategic agreement with the United States at the Nato summit.
It has already signed similar agreements with the United Kingdom, Italy, France, and India.
Australia is the largest non-Nato contributor of foreign soldiers to the Nato-led mission in Afghanistan. It has 1550 soldiers mainly based in Uruzgan province.