'UK-US could start Afghan troop withdrawn next year, end combat role by 2015'

Kabul, Nov 3 (ANI): Helmand governor, Gulab Mangal has said that Britain and the US could start withdrawing their troops from Afghanistan next year and end their combat role by 2015.

According to the Guardian, Mangal said that the improving situation in parts of the province meant that, in some areas, the Afghan army would be able to take "lead responsibility" for security within a year.

Asked whether he was confident that the Afghans would meet the 2011 and 2015 deadlines set by the British government, Mangal replied: "I think we will," but it would depend on Nato-led forces in Afghanistan keeping to their commitment to devote resources to training the Afghan army and security forces.

However, he stated that the Afghan forces were not strong enough to secure Helmand or neighbouring Kandahar province if Nato forces pulled out now.

On being asked about his views of talking to the Taliban, he said: "We should have military pressure at the same time as reconciliation."

Suggesting that the security situation had improved significantly in some areas, he claimed that when he came to power two and half years back, six out of 13 districts in the province were under government control. This figure had now risen to 10 districts.

Narcotics cultivation has been brought down by around 50 percent in two years, which in turn had greatly boosted security, Mangal added. (ANI)

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