U.S. voices continued support as Afghan security forces move into lead

11:14, July 07, 2011      

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As Afghan security forces move into the lead, the United States on Wednesday voiced their continued support, saying they are "redoubling efforts to pursue a peaceful end to this conflict."

The statement came as Susan Rice, the U.S. ambassador to the UN, addressed a Security Council open debate on Afghanistan, which will take over the leadership of its own security duties from international coalition forces by the end of 2014.

"As Afghan security forces move into the lead, the United States will continue to reduce its military footprint, and our mission will change from combat to support," she said, noting U.S. President Barack Obama's announcement last month of the gradual drawdown of U.S. forces from the region.

According to Obama's plan, 10,000 troops will be pulled out from the country by year end, and a total of 33,000 troops will be out by next summer, fully recovering the surge troops the president announced late 2009.

Citing significant progress in the country, she said that "the U.S. military surge, together with additional troops committed by our allies and partners, has helped stabilize more of the country and shifted the momentum away from the insurgency."

"Afghan security forces have improved in quality and grown by more than 100,000 troops," Rice said. "In some areas, these improvements have already allowed for the transition of responsibility for security to the Afghan National Security Forces. "

She said that "even as we pursue this transition to Afghan security responsibility, we are redoubling our efforts to pursue a peaceful end to this conflict."

Long-term electoral reform remains key to the country's democratic future, Rice said. "As we look to the 2014 presidential elections and beyond, we must ensure that we learn the lessons of the last several years for the benefit of Afghanistan's democratic future."

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