Melbourne: US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Monday said she was "convinced" that parts of Afghanistan would be under the control of Afghan forces by next year.
"This is a tough fight that we`re in, 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," Hillary told reporters.
The long-running war in Afghanistan, where Australia has some 1,550 soldiers deployed, was a focus of annual security talks between Hillary and US Defence Secretary Robert Gates and their Australian counterparts.
Hillary said Washington was committed to its strategy in Afghanistan.
She said she was confident that security could increasingly be handled by Afghan forces from next year -- subject to local conditions and detailed analysis.
"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.
Hillary’s comments follow a report that the US commander in Afghanistan, General David Petraeus, has drafted a timetable for handing over control of some provinces to local security forces.
The Times reported on Monday that Petraeus will present a colour-coded map containing a small number of "green" areas which are designated for handover within six months at a NATO leaders` summit on November 19.
The plan indicates that the western province of Herat is due for an early handover, while NATO forces are expected to remain in the southern provinces of Kandahar and Helmand for at least two more years, the paper said.
Australia, which has suffered mounting casualties in Afghanistan in recent months and has lost 21 soldiers there in total, has indicated it is likely to have some role in the country for the coming decade.