US to handover some provinces to Afghans next year: Clinton

US to handover some provinces to Afghans next year: Clinton

Labelling the current ongoing offencive by NATO and US forces in Southern and eastern Afghanistan as "crucial", Clinton said though the fight was tough," but we're convinced that starting next year there will be parts of Afghanistan that will be under the control of the Afghan government and its security forces."

The US Secretary of State key remarks made during the Australia-US security and military dialogue here came as a British newspaper 'The Times' quoting top US commander in Afghanistan said that Washington has drafted a timetable for handing over of control of some provinces to local security forces.

US General David Petraeus road-map would be presented at the NATO leaders summit in Lisbon on Nov 19, the paper said.

Times said, for at least another two years NATO and US forces would remain in former taliban strongholds of Kandhar and Helmand and only more secure provinces would be handed over to the Afghan forces.

The US forces are keeping the draft withdrawal road-map secret fearing that it's leak could trigger a taliban scramble on these areas.Afghanistan has over 34 provinces, with violence mainly concentrated in nine provinces in the south and east parts of the country.
Times said that parts of Herat, close to the Iranian border will be the first to be handed over by next year.

The long-running war in Afghanistan, where Australia has some 1,550 soldiers deployed, is in focus at security talks between Clinton and US Defence Secretary Robert Gates and their Australian counterparts.

Saying Washington was committed to its strategy in Afghanistan, Clinton said she was confident that security could increasingly be handled by Afghan forces from next year.
"We can't stand here today and tell you when, or on what timetable, any of the details, because we will be making those assessments based on the conditions as they occur," she said.

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