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Karzai Sets March 21 as Start of Security Transfer to Afghan Forces


Afghan President Hamid Karzai talks with delegates during the International Conference on Security Policy in Munich, southern Germany, February 6, 2011.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai talks with delegates during the International Conference on Security Policy in Munich, southern Germany, February 6, 2011.

The president of Afghanistan, Hamid Karzai, says he plans to announce next month the first phase of the transition of security from NATO troops to Afghan forces.

Karzai told an international conference in Munich, Germany, on Sunday that his government is "determined to demonstrate Afghan leadership and ownership of the transition process." He said he has selected March 21, which is the Afghan new year, as the beginning of that process. He did not provide details.

U.S. President Barack Obama has promised to begin withdrawing American troops from Afghanistan in July. But the number is likely to be small, and NATO officials have stressed that the transition of security to Afghan forces will be gradual and dependent on the situation on the ground.

NATO has set 2014 as the year the Afghan government will take full responsibility for the country's security.

NATO's top military commander, Admiral James Stavridis also addressed the Munch conference. He said recent gains on the Afghan battlefield are what he called "fragile" and "reversible" but, at the same, indications of progress.

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