U.S. President Barack Obama says there will be no "precipitous drawdown" rapid withdrawal of U.S. troops in Afghanistan as they transfer responsibility to Afghan forces.
Speaking to reporters Thursday in the Norwegian capital, Oslo, Mr. Obama said that starting in July 2011, U.S. forces will begin the "transition" giving Afghans greater responsibility for security. He said the speed of the U.S. withdrawal will be "conditions-based."
The president also suggested that U.S. forces will remain in Afghanistan for some time beyond 2011 to continue training Afghan forces.
He said the United States will retain an interest in partnering with Afghans and Pakistanis to fight remnants of terrorist groups for "several years" after U.S. combat troop levels have been "drastically reduced."
U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates ended a visit to Afghanistan Thursday with a vow that Washington will fulfill its commitment to the country. Speaking at Kabul airport, he said the U.S.-Afghan relationship is "forged in blood."
British Defense Secretary Bob Ainsworth also was in Kabul Thursday for talks with Afghan officials. He said the British people need to see Afghan authorities make progress in growing their capabilities.
British public support for Britain's troop presence in Afghanistan has waned this year as troop casualties have risen. The British military death toll in Afghanistan for this year reached 100 last Monday when insurgents killed a British soldier in the southern province of Helmand.
In another development, Norway has promised to boost its financial aid to Afghanistan with a donation of $110 million to develop the Afghan military and police. Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg made the pledge Thursday during talks with President Obama in Oslo.
Mr. Obama thanked Norway for pledging the funds, which will be transferred to Afghanistan from 2010 to 2014.
Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.