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Karzai Prepares Afghan Forces for Foreign Withdrawal

Afghan President Hamid Karzai, right, and first Vice President Muhammad Qasim Fahim, left, participate in a function promoting members of the Afghan security forces at the presidential palace in Kabul, 02 Oct 2010

Afghan President Hamid Karzai is calling on the country's security forces to prepare for the eventual withdrawal of foreign troops.

President Karzai delivered a speech Saturday at a ceremony to promote 28 members of the Afghan police, army and intelligence service.

Mr. Karzai told officers that U.S. and NATO forces will leave Afghanistan when they no longer feel the need to stay for their own national interests.

He pointed to history as an indication, highlighting U.S. efforts in the 1980s to help the mujahideen defeat the Soviet-backed communist regime that ruled Afghanistan. He noted how the U.S., Britain and France closed their embassies after the victory, because, he said, they did not see any more benefit in staying.

President Karzai has said he wants Afghan forces to take charge of the country's security by 2014.

This year has been the deadliest for foreign forces in Afghanistan since the U.S.-led invasion in 2001.

The NATO-led force in Afghanistan said Saturday that two of its soldiers were killed in a bomb attack Friday in the country's east. The statement did not provide further details or give the nationalities of the soldiers.

NATO commanders have said they expect heavy fighting as Afghan and international troops work to clear militants from the southern city of Kandahar and surrounding districts as part of "Operation Dragon Strike."

In an operation overnight Friday into Saturday in eastern Paktiya province, NATO said Afghan and coalition forces killed a senior Taliban leader identified as "Farman" and two of his associates. NATO said forces killed another suspected insurgent and detained several others in the southern province of Helmand on Friday.

Some information for this report was provided by AP.