NEWS

Greeks take charge of airport in Afghanistan

Greece's air force yesterday took over from Spain the administration of the international airport in the Afghan capital of Kabul during a ceremony attended by the chief of the Hellenic National Defense General Staff, Air Chief Marshal Ioannis Giagkos. Greek forces, which successfully completed a six-month stint in the same role in 2006, are to manage the airport until October of this year. Giagkos met with officers of the Hellenic Special Composition Battalion, who are involved in reconstruction and infrastructure work across the war-torn country, with Greek officers currently training members of the Afghan army and with officers stationed at the headquarters of the US-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), the peacekeeping mission in Afghanistan. The air marshal also met with ISAF Commander General Stanley McChrystal and the Kabul regional commander, Brigadier General Levent Colak, a Turkish national, for an update on the progress of ISAF operations. A Defense Ministry spokesman in Athens told Kathimerini that Greece was not planning to send more troops to Afghanistan and that the focus of its forces who are currently there is on training the Afghan army and rebuilding damaged infrastructure. Last November the government's Council for Foreign Affairs and Defense (KYSEA) said that a 122-strong construction unit currently based in Kabul would remain in the Afghan capital and would not be transferred to other parts of the country such as Herat, in northwestern Afghanistan, and Farah, in the country's west, as the previous conservative administration had foreseen in January last year.

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