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27 March, 2002
The Afghan transitional government's vice-chairwoman, Sima Samar, continued her high-profile visit here on Tuesday by meeting with Greek Foreign Minister George Papandreou, as Athens' assistance to the devastated country - especially in light of Tuesday's deadly earthquake there -- dominated talks.
Samar emphasized that her government wants the European Union to send more multinational peacekeeping troops to Afghanistan, "so that we do not lose the opportunity that has been given to us at this moment".
The female Afghan minister, a practicing physician, also touched on women's rights, a particularly sensitive topic in the up until recently Taliban-oppressed country.
"I must point out that we Afghans are part of humanity. And as such, we hope the international community won't close its eyes to us; that it doesn't forget us, and continues to help us so that we can rebuild our country," Samar, who holds the women's affairs and human rights portfolio in the coalition Kabul government, told reporters afterwards.
On his part, Papandreou promised assistance to quake-stricken northern Afghanistan, before citing Athens' desire to fund a project that will provide schooling for 5,000 Afghan girls as well as vocational training for women in general, especially war widows. Another Greek government proposal eyes the restoration of Kabul's dilapidated museum.
In greeting the Afghan minister, Papandreou said:
"We understand the particular gravity of her role outside Afghanistan for women, internationally. Her struggle is a symbol, I am sure that she inspires not only women's organizations, but all those who struggle for equality, justice and individual freedom around the world."
Another initiative calls for providing vocational training to Afghan refugees in Greece so that they can return to Afghanistan with viable skills.
Finally, Samar also signed the Olympic Truce, with envisions a cease-fire during the next Games in 2004.
She arrived in Greece as the distinguished guest of a coordinating committee of local women's groups.
Source: Athens News Agency