Coali­tion na­tions’ plan: Get out of Afghanistan by end of 2014

Austin American-Statesman - - TUESDAY BRIEFING -

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.

Ro­drigo Abd

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.

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