Obama welcomes Afghanistan security handover | News | DW | 14.05.2012
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Obama welcomes Afghanistan security handover

US President Barack Obama has welcomed the beginning of a new phase in the handover of security responsibilities to local forces. Earlier, a senior peace negotiator was shot dead in his car.

Obama welcomed the handover of security duties in 122 more districts across Afghanistan, announced on Sunday by the government in Kabul.

The move will see 75 percent of the country's population - and all 34 provincial capitals - come under the responsibility of Afghan troops.

"I welcome President Karzai's announcement today of the third tranche of areas to transition to Afghan security lead, which is an important step forward in our effort to achieve our objectives in Afghanistan," said Obama.

Francois Hollande

Hollande has vowed to move the withdrawal of French troops forward

Kapisa province, where France's troops are based, will be one of 11 provinces to come under Afghan control, according to a statement from the Afghan premier's office.

French president-elect Francois Hollande had already pledged during his election campaign to withdraw France's 3,400 troops from Afghanistan this year.

Risks may increase

Ashraf Ghani, head of the Afghan commission overseeing the transition, said earlier on Sunday, that each phase involved a rigorous assessment of risks, with the handover posing fresh dangers.

"Until now, the first two tranches, our risk management strategies have proven effective. As we move towards 2014, we will have to take more risks," Ghani told a press conference.

It is thought the handover could take between six and 18 months. The move is the third phase of the transition of military control, with 130,000 US-led NATO set to leave the country by the end of 2014.

Afghan police said earlier on Sunday that gunmen had shot dead a top peace negotiator involved in talks with Taliban insurgents.
Investigators said Maulvi Arsala Rahmani was hit by gunfire from another car while his vehicle was stuck in traffic in the capital on Sunday.

Rahmani, a former Taliban minister, was on his way to a meeting with lawmakers and other officials in the heavily barricaded diplomatic center of Kabul. He was one of the most senior members on Afghanistan's High Peace Council, set up two years ago to negotiate a peace deal with Taliban insurgents. On Twitter, the United States embassy in Kabul called the killing of another peace council member "a tragedy."

rc/av (AF, dpa)