KABUL, Afghanistan -- A soldier from Georgia belonging to the NATO-led mission in Afghanistan has been missing since Wednesday in the southwest of the country, the coalition said on Friday.
The soldier's disappearance was confirmed by the Georgian Defense Ministry on its Web site, but it gave few other details while search-and-rescue efforts were under way.
The circumstances surrounding the disappearance were unclear, said Maj. Martyn Crighton, a spokesman for the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force here in Kabul. Major Crighton said coalition forces were searching for the soldier.
"I can confirm that there is an ISAF service member from Georgia who is based in southern Afghanistan who is listed as whereabouts unknown," he said. "He was last seen on the 19th." Major Crighton could not say which province in the southwest the soldier was serving in or whether he was on patrol duty outside a base when he was last seen.
The southwest has been one of the centers of the post-surge drawdown of American forces this year, but coalition levels were bolstered by the arrival of a second battalion from the Georgian Army.
Georgia currently has a small contingent of 1,561 soldiers in Afghanistan, mostly serving in Helmand Province.
Niamatullah, the governor of Musa Qala district of Helmand Province, said a Georgian soldier had walked out of a local base on his own.
"We have no idea why he left his base," said Niamatullah, who like many Afghans goes by one name. "He was not missed during a patrol nor was he taken away by someone. He walked out of the base by himself."
The local base is in a small valley about 10 miles from the district center, where the Taliban have a strong presence and where local residents have dug wells to irrigate poppy fields.
In its statement, the Georgian Defense Ministry said all Georgian units in Afghanistan had been moved to the "highest security alert posture" after the disappearance. The report of a missing soldier is rare. The only other ISAF service member in Afghanistan who is classified as missing is Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, an American soldier who is known to be held by the Taliban. Until the Taliban suspended preliminary peace talks with the United States in March, Sergeant Bergdahl was part of a proposed prisoner swap that would have seen him exchanged for five insurgent leaders imprisoned at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba.
Informal two-day talks between Afghanistan's competing factions, including the Taliban, took place at a location outside Paris on Thursday and Friday. But the militant group and other faction leaders played down hope of a breakthrough.
Sharifullah Sahak contributed reporting from Kabul, and Taimoor Shah from Kandahar, Afghanistan.
This article originally appeared in The New York Times.