Afghanistan is "ready and happy" for an expedited security transition, President Hamid Karzai said Thursday, dpa reported.
"Afghans are ready to expedite the process of transition if necessary and willing," Karzai said during a joint press conference with NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen in Kabul. "This is in all aspects good news for us and for NATO."
"The transition is going on, on schedule," Karzai said. "It has taken place well. The Afghan government is ready to take responsibility."
US soldiers and forces serving in a NATO-led coalition are fighting an 11-year-old Taliban insurgency. The foreign combat troops are set to leave Afghanistan by the end of 2014 after handing over all security responsibilities to Afghan forces by next year.
NATO officials have said the current third tranche of security handovers will be completed by the end of next month. The government is to announce the fourth and fifth tranches in coming months.
Amid Karzai's comments, and the announcement of accelerated withdrawal plans by France and Britain, Rasmussen said the coalition remains committed to Afghanistan and the timeline remains unchanged.
There are still around 100,000 foreign troops in Afghanistan. "We are all committed to see our combat missions through by the end of 2014," Rasmussen said on an unannounced visit to the country.
"The Afghan security forces have already achieved much. They are already in lead for security of three quarters of the population," he he told reporters in the presidential palace.
Where the Afghan forces are in charge, violence has gone down, he said.
Afghan officials have said this is because Afghan forces operating without international troops venture outside their bases less.
So-called insider attacks by uniformed members of the security forces remain a challenge, Rasmussen said. At least 53 foreign troops have been killed so far this year by soldiers and police officers.
"Let me make it clear: the enemies of Afghanistan may change their tactics but they will not succeed," he said. "They will not divide us from our Afghan partners and friends. And they will not divert us from our mission, our strategy, and our timeline."
Rasmussen also said there will be a new non-combat mission after 2014. "It will focus on training, advice, and assistance. And we are now actively planning for that," he said.