Afghan conference eyes 2014 security handover: report

18th July 2010, Comments 0 comments

International powers fighting in Afghanistan will agree next week to hand over control of security in the country to Afghan forces by 2014, a British newspaper reported Sunday.

A leaked communique circulated ahead of Tuesday's meeting of donor nations in Kabul will set out a phased transition beginning this year, according to the Independent on Sunday.

"The international community expressed its support for the president of Afghanistan's objective that the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) should lead and conduct military operations in all provinces by the end of 2014," the agreed statement says, according to the paper.

It also pledges that foreign powers will continue to "provide the support necessary to increase security during this time, and the continued support in training, equipping and providing interim financing to the ANSF".

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and senior officials from over 60 countries and international organisations are scheduled to attend the Kabul conference to discuss the rebuilding of the troubled nation.

British Foreign Secretary William Hague said this month he would be "very surprised" if Afghan forces had not taken over security by 2014, and Prime Minister David Cameron has said he wants Britain's troops home by 2015.

US President Barack Obama has also said he wants to begin withdrawing some of his country's troops next July.

According to the newspaper, the communique -- sent to senior diplomats on Saturday by UN special representative for Afghanistan Staffan de Mistura -- also outlines an aim to begin announcing the transition this year.

A Foreign Office spokeswoman refused to comment on the leak but said: "The UK and Afghan governments' shared goal remains a stable and secure Afghanistan which is able to maintain its own security and prevent al-Qaeda from returning.

"The Kabul conference is a further important step in a process, building on the London conference (in January), for the international community to support the Afghan government in taking the lead in its own affairs."

© 2010 AFP

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