Australia politics live: NSW Health still searching for ‘missing link’ in Covid case; Marise Payne visits Afghanistan | Australia news

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This statement has just lobbed from the foreign affair minister’s office:

Today I visited Kabul and affirmed Australia’s support for the Afghanistan government and people during this time of change for the country.

I was pleased to meet again with HE President Ashraf Ghani. We discussed the challenges of Covid-19, the international troop withdrawal, support for a stable and secure Afghanistan, and our shared hopes for the ongoing peace negotiations.

I was also pleased to meet with the minister for women’s affairs, Hasina Safi, who joined our meeting, and to discuss how Australia and Afghanistan have worked together to support and improve the rights of women and girls – a development we want to see maintained.

In my meeting with the chair of the High Council for National Reconciliation, HE Abdullah Abdullah, we discussed the gains made by the people of Afghanistan over the past 20 years, the development and humanitarian assistance provided by Australia and our enduring shared commitment to a sustainable peace that is genuinely inclusive and involves all of Afghan society.

During these meetings, we discussed the sacrifices made by the Afghan people, as well as those international military forces killed or wounded, including those Australians who made the ultimate sacrifice and the many who still bear the impacts of their service in Afghanistan both physical and mental. We discussed the recent Inspector-General report, Australia’s robust response, and the establishment of the Office of the Special Investigator.

Recognising Australia’s long-standing contribution to the Resolute Support Mission, I also met with US General Austin Miller, commander of Resolute Support to discuss the withdrawal plans.

I was also proud to spend time with Australian embassy staff and defence force personnel to acknowledge their significant contributions to the Australia-Afghanistan relationship. I thank Rear Admiral Mike Rothwell, CJTF 633, for travelling with me.

With the departure of the Australian defence force, the Australia-Afghanistan relationship is beginning a new chapter of our diplomatic relationship, established in 1969. We will continue our close friendship, and support our shared aspiration of peace, stability and prosperity. We will continue our development assistance program to work to preserve the significant gains made by the Afghan people, in particular advancing the rights of women and girls.

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