Clinton admits to shortfall of trainers for Afghan troops as exit strategy is agreed

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Tallinn (Estonia), Apr.24 (ANI): U.S. Secretary of State Hilary Clinton has admitted that Washington is aware of there being a 'shortfall of trainers' for local troops in Afghanistan, but believes that with sufficient mentoring the latter can support themselves against the Taliban.

Her comment surfaced as NATO agreed on a road map for the future of Afghanistan.

According to The Independent, the NATO summit ended here last night without details of the framework for a handover of security to President Hamid Karzai's forces being made public.

The Independent has learned, however, that an area will be deemed ready for transfer if serious violence has been in abeyance for a period of time, if there is access to power by different ethnic and tribal elements and if the conditions are present for development projects taking place in relative safety.

According to senior diplomatic sources, clusters of provinces, rather than individual ones, will be transferred to "provide critical mass" able to withstand the Taliban.

The decisions on the locations for handover and the timeframe involved will be made at a NATO conference later this year after talks between Western and Afghan government officials.

The start of the handover will not, however, mean that troops can start to withdraw.

British troops in particular will have to wait before pulling out as the areas in the south where they are based - the main battleground with the Taliban --- will be among the last to be transferred to Afghan control.

NATO Secretary General, Anders Fogh Rasmussen said: "The future of this mission is clear and visible: more Afghan capability and more Afghan leadership... But it will not be a pullout. It will not be a run for the exit... Our soldiers will move into a more supportive role. So, it will be a gradual process. This is conditions-based and not calendar-driven." (ANI)

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