Rome: The Afghan city of Herat could be
under Afghan control by the end of 2011, Italian Defence
Minister Ignazio La Russa said today after talks with US
General David Petraeus, Ansa news agency reported.
"I think that by the end of 2011 several districts in
the western zone could be handed over. Herat, for example, is
already a zone that could be ready," La Russa said at the
meeting in an air force base in Milan in northern Italy.
"Our objective is to give back the territory to the
Afghan government and army so that they can continue the
action against terrorism and launch a process of normalisation
of that territory," La Russa said.
After the end of 2011 "combat soldiers can be reduced
but trainers will remain. 2011 could be an important year," he
Petraeus, the top US commander in Afghanistan, will
take part in a meeting of the International Contact Group on
Afghanistan in Rome on Monday.
The NATO alliance, facing waning public support for
the war, is anxious to begin a transition next year that would
have Afghan army and police taking over from US-led troops in
some parts of the country.