US, Britain firm on 2014 Afghan transition deadline
WASHINGTON (PAN): Undeterred by the series of recent developments in Afghanistan, the top leadership of US and Britain on Wednesday reiterated their commitment to the country’s security transition to Afghan forces by 2014.
At the same time they conceded that they are not in Afghanistan on a nation-building mission, but to ensure that the country was not used to launch any terrorist attack against them, the US in particular as it happened in the past.
“The tragic events of recent days are a reminder that this continues to be a very difficult mission. Obviously we both have lost a number of extraordinary young men and women in theater. What's undeniable, though, and what we can never forget is that our forces are making very real progress dismantling Al Qaida, breaking the Taliban's momentum, and training Afghan forces so that they can take the lead and our troops can come home,” US President Barack Obama, said at a joint news conference with visiting British Prime Minister David Cameroon.
The transition, he noted, is already under way and about half of all Afghans currently live in areas where Afghan security forces are taking responsibility. “Today, the Prime Minister and I reaffirmed the transition plan that we agreed to with our coalition partners in Lisbon. Specifically, at the upcoming NATO summit in my home town of Chicago, we'll determine the next phase of transition. This includes shifting to a support role next year in 2013 in advance of Afghans taking full responsibility for security in 2014,” he said.
“We're going to complete this mission and we're going to do it responsibly. And NATO will maintain an enduring commitment so that Afghanistan never again becomes a haven for Al Qaida to attack our countries.
Recent days, Cameron said, has reminded just how difficult the Afghan mission is and how high the cost of this war has been for Britain, for America, and for Afghans themselves. “But we will not give up on this mission because Afghanistan must never again be a safe haven for Al Qaida to launch attacks against us,” he said.
“We won't build a perfect Afghanistan, although let's be clear: We are making some tangible progress with more markets opened, more health centers working, more children going to school, more people able to achieve a basic standard of living and security. But we can help ensure that Afghanistan is capable of delivering its own security without the need for large numbers of foreign troops,” Cameron said.
“We are now in the final phases of our military mission. That means completing the training of the Afghan forces so that they can take over the task of maintaining security themselves. That transition to Afghan control, as agreed in Lisbon, is now well under way,” he said.
“Next year in 2013, this includes shifting to a support role as Afghans take the lead. This is in advance of Afghan forces taking full responsibility for security in 2014. And as we've always said, we won't be in a combat role after 2014. At the same time, we'll also back President Karzai in working towards an Afghan-led political settlement,” Cameron said.
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