16:56 19.10.2012

Estonia to pull out from Afghanistan together with NATO - President Ilves

Estonia will not pull out from Afghanistan separately from other NATO member countries, Estonian President Toomas Hendrik Ilves said on Friday as he bid farewell to the ESTCOY-15 infantry company that is leaving on a mission to Afghanistan.

"Estonia sticks to the "Come Together, Leave Together" principle in shaping the future of the NATO operation in Afghanistan," the president said.

"Estonia's infantry company will cease operations in Afghanistan jointly with the U.S. contingent, no later than in 2014. I am confident that the mission of our Defense Forces will continue even if our presence in Afghanistan ends," the chief of state said.

He described the Afghan situation as complex and stressed the importance of efficiency from the Afghan central authorities, curbing corruption and suppressing insurgents.

"Local residents are tired of the conflict; they tend to support the party that can bring peace and such necessities as a judiciary, free trade and others," Ilves said.

The Estonian parliament ordered 170 Defense Forces soldiers sent to Afghanistan.

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