Czech PM on surprise Afghan visit

Czech Prime Minister Petr Necas made an unannounced visit to Afghanistan at the weekend, meeting President Hamid Karzai and Czech military forces, his office said Sunday.

The 500 Czech troops in Afghanistan under a NATO-led mission are due home by the end of next year but according to the government website Necas assured Karzai his country would offer support after 2014 in the form of training.

The leaders also talked about expanding their bilateral economic cooperation, particularly in building up Afghanistan's transport infrastructure.

"We are, for example, able to provide railway. Afghanistan is in need of railroad links with the Middle East," Necas said.

During his two-day visit which ended Sunday, Necas visited troops based in the central province of Wardak and the eastern province of Logar.

Five Czech troops have been killed since Prague first deployed soldiers in Afghanistan in 2002.

Some 150 Czech soldiers are expected to participate in the post-2014 training programme.

Afghan forces are gradually taking over security responsibility as US-led international forces gradually scale down.

There are widespread fears that they will be unable to face down the Taliban and that the country could tip into greater instability.