Leak reveals Afghanistan 2014 withdrawal plan

British forces could be withdrawn from combat roles in Afghanistan by 2014
British forces could be withdrawn from combat roles in Afghanistan by 2014

By politics.co.uk staff

British troops could be removed from the frontline in Afghanistan in 2014, a year earlier than planned, a leaked document has suggested.

Extracts from a draft communiqué for the forthcoming Kabul conference, to be attended by figures including US secretary of state Hillary Clinton and foreign secretary William Hague, were published in the Independent on Sunday newspaper.

They revealed a plan for Afghan president Hamid Karzai to begin a transition process by the end of 2010 which would see responsibility for security shifted to Afghan forces by the end of 2014.

"The international community expressed its support for the president of Afghanistan's objective that the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) should lead and conduct military operations in all provinces by the end of 2014," the communiqué draft suggested.

David Cameron has outlined an ambition for British forces to avoid having combat troops in substantial numbers in Afghanistan by 2015.

Although defence secretary Liam Fox called that assessment "conservative" he pointed out the original plan for coalition forces to hand over complete responsibility by 2013 had been put back.

He downplayed the significance of the document, telling BBC1's The Andrew Marr show that "a leaked draft document for a potential communiqué on a conference that hasn't yet happened is really quite a leak".

Britain is set to increase its development spending on Afghanistan by 40%, international development secretary Andrew Mitchell is expected to announce this week.


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