Karzai to announce security transition March 21

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Afghan President Hamid Karzai said Sunday he would announce the start of the transition of security responsibility from NATO to Afghan forces on March 21, his country's New Year.

The NATO-led military mission has decided to begin handing Afghan forces the lead in the battle against Taliban rebels this year with the aim of giving them full responsibility across the nation by 2014.

"We are determined to demonstrate Afghan leadership and ownership of the transition process," Karzai told the Munich Security Conference, an annual gathering of defence leaders in the German city.

"I will announce the first phase of transition on the new Afghan year, which is the 21st of March," he said.

NATO hopes to build up Afghan security forces to some 306,000 soldiers and police by the end of the year to begin taking over from around 140,000 foreign troops fighting across the nation.

© 2011 AFP

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