Rome: A NATO summit next month should
kickstart the process of returning control of Afghanistan to
local security forces from 2011, a top diplomat said today on
the sidelines of international talks in Rome.
"What we expect from Lisbon is a kickstart for next
year starting this transition process," Michael Steiner,
Germany`s special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan
and chair of the Rome talks, told reporters.
Richard Holbrooke, the US special representative, said
a report at the talks by General David Petraeus, the top US
military commander in Afghanistan, gave "much evidence of an
accelerated movement forward in most of the country."
"It was a very encouraging report," Holbrooke said.
"We want to make clear that at Lisbon there are not
going to be specific announcements of the number of provinces
to be put in the transition category... We`re going to talk
about the transition process," he added.
The talks in Rome brought together top diplomats
representing 46 countries including nine members of the
Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC).
Steiner said the transition would start in 2011 and be
completed by 2014.
But he stressed: "This is not the withdrawal of
troops. These are two different things. It`s the precondition
for the withdrawal."
"There must be sufficient training done in time and...
the process must be irreversible," he added.
Mark Sedwill, NATO`s top civilian representative in
Afghanistan, said: "We will have troops in Afghanistan after
2014 but the goal is that the troops will be in a training and
"We hope that by then the threat from the insurgency
will have been significantly reduced," he added.