Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi arrives in Kabul

Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi arrived in Kabul on Sunday to meet with President Hamid Karzai and to visit Italian troops based in western Afghanistan, an official at the presidential palace said. Italy has about 2,400 troops in NATO's International Security Assistance Force, mostly in the western province of Herat. Prodi's stop here follows visits by the leaders of France and Australia, who met with Karzai on Saturday. Each leader pledged that their countries were committed to Afghanistan for the long term. Making the first-ever visit to Afghanistan by a French president, Nicolas Sarkozy told Karzai that France has a long-term political and military interest in Afghanistan, Karzai's office said in a statement, apparently signaling that French troops would not pull out of the country anytime soon.