Afghan progress on track: Cameron

6th February 2011, Comments 0 comments

British Prime Minister David Cameron on Sunday said coalition forces were making steady progress in improving security in Afghanistan and were on track to leave the country by 2015.

"I do think we've made progress," Cameron told CNN, adding that ensuring that Afghan forces could take over responsibility for the country's security was the ultimate key to allowing US, British and NATO forces to withdraw.

Britain has about 9,500 troops in Afghanistan, making it the second-largest contributor after the United States to the NATO-led coalition.

Based in the central province of Helmand, which Cameron called the "toughest part of the country by a very, very long way," they are battling Taliban insurgents and training local security forces.

"The ticket for President (Barack) Obama and for me to bring our troops home is the training of the Afghan army and the police, which is going well," Cameron told CNN.

"We need to keep that progress growing, and we need a strong government in Afghanistan to help deliver that change," he said.

"I believe those things can be done, and we will be able to meet our deadline of not having combat troops or troops in large number by 2015."

In his State of the Union address last month, Obama renewed pledges to start withdrawing some of the nearly 100,000 US troops in July and to begin handing over security duties to Afghan forces in 2011.

Top US officials have suggested an initial mid-2011 withdrawal date will only involve the return of a small number of troops, with NATO leaders aiming to hand over security for to Afghan forces by the end of 2014.

© 2011 AFP

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