Coalition nations’ plan: Get out of Afghanistan by end of 2014
KABUL, Afghanistan — The strategy sits for now on a table in a locked-down Afghan capital: Hand over security in all 34 provinces to the government by the end of 2014 — more than three years after President Barack Obama’s date for the start of an American troop drawdown.
It is scheduled to be adopted today at a one-day international conference, giving war-weary Americans and Europeans a date for when their involvement in Afghanistan may begin to come to an end. It will also give President Hamid Karzai a chance to show whether his struggling government is making progress toward running the country.
The conference comes at a time of growing anxiety in the U.S. and Europe about the course of the war — concerns underscored by Taliban attacks on Monday that killed six Afghan police and two American soldiers. The American deaths brought to 42 the number of U.S. troops killed in Afghanistan this month.
A major security operation has virtually shut down Kabul for the conference, in which about 60 nations will focus on the postwar transition.
Afghan officials want the U.S. and other international donors to give them a greater say in spending the billions of dollars in aid and reconstruction funds that have flowed into the country since the war began in 2001 — often with only limited results.
Mindful that public patience is running out, the delegates will endorse the goal of gradually turning over security to Afghan forces by the time Karzai leaves office at the end of 2014, according to a draft communique obtained by The Associated Press.
In London, a senior British diplomat, speaking on condition of anonymity because details have not yet been finalized, said the conference would likely agree that the process of handing over control would begin early next year.
The diplomat said a NATO conference in Lisbon in October would decide what areas would be handed over immediately.
Conference attendees are expected to approve a plan to turn over control to Afghan forces by 2014. National army troops prep for patrol in Kandahar on Monday.