US commander in Afghanistan draws up transition timetable
The US commander in Afghanistan has drafted a timetable for the handing over of control of its provinces to local security forces, The Times newspaper reported Monday.
US General David Petraeus's colour-coded map, which will be presented to Nato leaders at a summit in Lisbon on November 19, contains a small number of "green" areas which are designated for handover within six months.
The plan indicates that the western province of Herat is due for an early handover, while NATO forces are expected to remain in the southern provinces of Kandahar and Helmand for at least two more years.
Alliance diplomatic sources told the newspaper that Petraeus did not want the map to be published, fearing certain provinces and districts would become "bull's-eye" targets for the Taliban.
The sources added that Petraeus will use his Lisbon platform to reaffirm that the changeover will be a gradual process of NATO withdrawal and strengthening of Afghan forces.
The summit is expected to give full support to the proposals which support US President Barack Obama's promise that he will begin pulling US troops out of Afghanistan from July next year.
Afghanistan is divided into 37 provinces, with violence mainly concentrated in nine to the south and east of the country.
Of over 300 districts within the provinces, it is hoped that around two-thirds could be handed over without serious risk.
© 2010 AFP