UK troops 'to leave Afghanistan by 2014'

British troops are to pull out of Afghanistan by 2014 according to a secret document mapping out a blueprint for the withdrawal of coalition forces, it was reported today.

President Hamid Karzai is to announce a timetable for a “conditions-based and phased transition” at an international conference being held in Kabul next week which will map out the future of the troubled country, according to the leaked communique.

The document, seen by The Independent on Sunday, reportedly states the withdrawal of Nato troops is to begin within months, with the Afghan National Security Forces taking control of military operations by the end of 2014.

The disclosure comes after British Foreign Secretary William Hague hinted at British troops leaving Afghanistan by 2014 but stressed that the Government was not “setting a timetable for what happens over the next few years”.

Mr Hague will attend the International Conference on Afghanistan on Tuesday, alongside US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and foreign ministers from more than 70 countries.

The document states: “The international community expressed its support for the President of Afghanistan’s objective that the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) should lead and conduct military operations in all provinces by the end of 2014.”

It goes on to pledge that the international community will continue to “provide the support necessary to increase security during this time, and the continued support in training, equipping and providing interim financing to the ANSF at every level to take on the task of securing their country”.

It adds: “The government of Afghanistan and the international community agreed to jointly assess provinces, with the aim of announcing by the end of 2010 that the process of transition is under way.”

The Foreign Office confirmed that it was aware of the document but refused to comment last night.

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