International forces in Afghanistan will shift into a “support role” from next year, British Prime Minister David Cameron and US President Barack Obama confirmed today following talks in the White House.
Mr Obama told a joint press conference that details of the next stage of transition to Afghan control would be determined at the Nato summit in Chicago.
“This includes shifting to a support role next year in 2013 in advance of Afghans taking full responsibility for security in 2014. We are going to complete this mission and we are going to do it responsibly,” he said.
Mr Cameron said: ``Recent days have reminded us just how difficult our mission is and how high the cost of this war has been for Britain, for America and for Afghans themselves.
“We will not give up on this mission because Afghanistan must never again be a safe haven for al Qaida to launch attacks against us.
“We will not build a perfect Afghanistan, although let’s be clear, we are making some tangible progress.
“But we can help ensure that Afghan is capable of delivering its own security without the need for large numbers of foreign troops.”
He went on: “We are now in the final phases of our military mission.
“That transition to Afghan control, as agreed at Lisbon, is now well under way. And next year, as the president said, in 2013, this includes shifting to a support role.
“This is in advance of Afghans taking full responsibility for security in 2014.”
In a press conference in bright sunshine outside the White House, the leaders paid tribute to relations between Britain and the US.
“There are some countries whose alliance is a matter of convenience, but ours is a matter of conviction,” the Prime Minister said.
President Obama in turn described Mr Cameron as an “outstanding ally, partner and friend”.