William Hague spells out Afghan security deal

BOTH the UK and US remain committed to a timetable for withdrawal of combat troops from Afghanistan by the end of 2014, Foreign Secretary William Hague has told MPs.

Mr Hague said there would be a gradual transfer of responsibility to the Afghan National Army, with local troops expected to take “lead responsibility” during 2013.

Shadow foreign secretary Douglas Alexander had raised concerns in the Commons about comments from US defence secretary Leon Panetta about a US withdrawal from combat roles in 2013.

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But Mr Hague said there was no difference in position between the allies in Afghanistan.

He told the Commons: “The US defence secretary has stressed US forces will remain combat capable and ready in Afghanistan to the end of 2014. He has also said very clearly we have got to stick to the Lisbon strategy.

“That is a strategy that involved withdrawing from a combat role after the end of 2014.”

He said reports often confused lead and full responsibility, adding: “We expect Afghan forces to have lead responsibility in mid- to late 2013. Full responsibility, that is full transition to Afghan control, is from end of 2014.”