Spain sets target for Afghan withdrawal

Last Updated: Thursday, September 10, 2009 - 10:09

Madrid: Spain will withdraw its troops from Afghanistan within five years, Defence Minister Carme Chacon said.
The remarks followed Spain`s recent announcement that it would send another 220 soldiers to the Central Asian country to help in the continued battle against the Taliban.

The reinforcement will be ratified by the Spanish parliament Friday despite criticism from the opposition Popular Party.

Speaking on Cadena Ser radio on Wednesday, Chacon said, "We need to fix times and a horizon to say that we will have achieved our objective in less than five years."

"That timescale seems reasonable to Spain," said the minister, who stressed the peacekeeping mission of the Spanish troops in Afghanistan.

"They will be involved in the establishment of stability, development and reconstruction of the country. We want the next elections in the country to be set up by Afghans themselves," she said, before making reference to accusations of fraud hanging over the August 20 Afghan Presidential Elections.

"We hope that the Complaints Commission will eliminate those votes that appear to be false. We are waiting to see whether or not there will be a second round of voting," said Chacon.

With votes from 91.6 percent polling stations already counted, incumbent Afghan President Hamid Karzai has won 54.1 percent of the vote, moving closer to winning re-election, the Afghan Independent Election Commission announced Tuesday.

Karzai`s major rival Abdullah Abdullah has garnered 28.3 percent of the vote.

Karzai needs over 50 percent of votes to avoid a run-off.


First Published: Thursday, September 10, 2009 - 10:09

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