The Afghan capital was under virtual lockdown for
the high-level gathering, which passed without any major attack.
However, insurgents fired rockets at
Helicopters thundered overhead as the delegations arrived and departed. Below, the streets of
"I remain determined that our Afghan national
security forces will be responsible for all military and law
enforcement operations throughout our country by 2014," Karzai told the
delegates, including Secretary of State
Conference participants also endorsed plans to channel at least half of the
In return, Karzai promised to fight corruption through such means as requiring government officials to declare their assets, and the strengthening of a task force meant to crack down on graft.
Events elsewhere in
A second Afghan soldier was also killed in the exchange of fire and a Western service member wounded, the NATO force said, adding that the incident was under investigation.
The endorsement of Karzai's security timeline by the
Karzai had put forth the goal of a security handover by 2014 last November, as he was inaugurated for a second presidential term. Since then, though, the sense of urgency surrounding an exit strategy for the West has increased dramatically.
The Obama administration has already set a target of
Already, doubts have been raised as to whether the
tide can be turned against the Taliban by then. A major military
operation to secure the southern city of
Domestic political support for the Afghan war has
eroded sharply in countries that are the main American partners in the
NATO force, including
While the five-hour conference proceeded, the Western military announced another troop fatality, in
Leaders addressing the conference stressed that the 2014 target would be dependent on the Afghan police and army demonstrating their ability to take the lead on security, on a province-by-province basis. Despite intensive training by Western mentors, the Afghan army — and the police even more so — are considered far from ready to step into that role.
"I welcome the road map agreed on today on transition to an Afghan lead in security," NATO Secretary-General
He added: "We will never allow the Taliban to overthrow the elected government by force."
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