Afghan President Karzai hopes for security handover by 2014

Afghan President Karzai hopes for security handover by 2014

Afghan President Hamid Karzai said on Wednesday that his government hoped to take charge of security within Afghanistan by 2014, DPA reported.

He was speaking after talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin.

"Afghanistan does not want to be a burden on the shoulder of our allies and friends. Afghanistan wants to soon be defending its own territory, its own people with Afghan means," Karzai said.

His meeting with Merkel came a day ahead of an international conference on Afghanistan taking place in London.

The leaders did not mention a specific date for military withdrawal from Afghanistan. Merkel made it clear however that international support would have to continue long after NATO troops had left the region.

"This can include financial pledges for a period when no security forces are directly in Afghanistan any more," Merkel said.

"In the history of Afghanistan we have experienced time and again that a too rapid withdrawal and abandonment of Afghanistan can destroy every development success," she added.

Karzai said his government was working hard to provide security in greater parts of the country in the next two to three years, and to lead security all over the country by the end of his five-year term in 2014.

Merkel said the Afghanistan conference in London heralded a new phase of "responsible handover."

The chancellor stressed the importance of training Afghan security forces as soon as possible, and also ensuring they had the means to survive.

"Otherwise the Taliban could hope that they can attack when the police and soldiers are no longer properly paid and are no longer motivated," Merkel said.

On Tuesday Merkel unveiled a new strategy for Afghanistan, pledging up to 850 new troops, with a focus on training. Germany is also to send around 100 new police instructors, and promised a near-doubling of development aid, to 430 million euros (605 million dollars).

Karzai's breakfast meeting with Merkel followed a dinner with the parliamentary leaders of Germany's political parties. The parliament, or Bundestag, has to approve any change in the country's Afghan mandate.

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