The Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy has become the second Western leader to make a surprise pre-Christmas visit to Afghanistan.
The morale-boosting trip for Spanish troops in the country comes as Spain says it intends to maintain a military presence after 2014, although most of the 1,500 soldiers are to be pulled out before then.
“We still have a difficult task ahead of us, to further cement the conditions necessary to complete the transitions before 2014, to finish our troop withdrawal and support our allies,” Rajoy said.
Earlier in the week the British Prime Minister David Cameron visited his country’s troops in Afghanistan. The UK has pledged to almost halve its forces there by the end of next year.
A full handover of security affairs to Afghan forces is expected by the end of 2014.