Washington: The US and its allies are making significant progress in Afghanistan and are on track to achieve the 2014 goals of complete transition, President Barack Obama said on Monday, after his Afghan counterpart Hamid Karzai announced the third tranche of areas to transition.
This "is an important step forward in our effort to achieve our objectives in Afghanistan," Obama said in a statement after Karzai announced the transition of security responsibility for Kapisa, Uruzgan and Parwan provinces.
Likewise, security will also change hands in all provincial capitals.
As transition proceeds in these areas, nearly 75 per cent of the population of Afghanistan will be living in provinces, districts and villages where Afghan forces are leading, he said.
"The Afghan National Security Forces are strengthening their capacity as we remain on track to meet our goal of having the Afghan government fully responsible for security across the country by the end of 2014," Obama said.
"A week from now, world leaders will gather at the NATO Summit in Chicago to discuss how we can effectively advance the transition process as our forces move from combat to a support role, and demonstrate our enduring support for the Afghan government and Afghan National Security Forces," said the US President.
Obama said he looks forward to meeting with Karzai and other NATO leaders in Chicago to discuss these critical steps that will strengthen Afghan sovereignty while responsibly winding down the war.
US Defence Secretary Leon Panetta said the announcement by Karzai in Kabul is another tangible sign of progress in their strategy and in the further development of Afghan leadership and responsibility for their own security.
"With more than 100 districts identified, this third phase will be the largest yet. When implemented, roughly three-fourths of the Afghan people will live in areas undergoing transition to Afghan security lead. It means that transition will be occurring in every province in the country, and in every provincial capital," Panetta said.
"None of this would be possible without the growing strength of the Afghan National Security Forces, which remain essential to our shared goal of an Afghanistan that can secure and govern itself," he said.
Panetta commended US troops and those of ISAF partners for their determination and commitment to this vital mission and applauded General Allen and Ambassador (Ryan) Crocker for their extraordinary leadership in Afghanistan.
"Thanks to their efforts, the transition to Afghan security lead is on track to be completed by the end of 2014. We will continue working toward our shared goal of an Afghanistan that provide security and greater prosperity for its people," Panetta said.