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Afghan gov't begins 2nd phase of security transition

(Xinhua)

22:19, December 01, 2011

CHARIKAR, Afghanistan, Dec. 1 (Xinhua) -- The government of Afghanistan began the second phase of taking over security responsibilities from NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) on Thursday.

In a high-profile ceremony held in Afghanistan's relatively peaceful eastern Parwan province, Afghan security forces commenced taking over security charge of seven out of nine districts as well as the provincial capital Charikar city, some 55 km north of capital city of Kabul.

Several high-ranking Afghan and NATO officials including top U. S. and NATO commander General John R. Allen, Afghan Defense Minister Abdul Rahim Wardak, Minister for Interior Bismillah Khan Mohammadi and Chairman of the Afghan Transition Coordination Commission Asharaf Ghani Ahmadzai as well as US Ambassador to Afghanistan Ryan Crocker attended the ceremony in Charikar city on Thursday.

"This is our national responsibility to take over our security and defend our country and that government's goal of assuming lead responsibility for security across Afghanistan by the end of 2014 has been moving smoothly and is on track," Afghan Defense Minister Abdul Rahim Wardak said.

"Afghanistan has entered a decisive period in its history today as we began the second phase of security transition today in a process which is irreversible and critical for our country and people," speaking on the occasion, Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai, the Chairman of Afghan Transition Coordination Commission said.

When the transition process of the second phase is completed in near future, Afghan national security forces will assume leading security responsibility for around half of Afghanistan's population, Ahmadzai added.

Over 20 billion U.S. dollars would be spent in strengthening the capability of Afghan national security forces within the next three years across the country, he further said.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai on Sunday announced that the Afghan army and police will take full control of six Afghan provinces including Balkh, Takhar, Daikundi, Samangan, Kabul and Nimroz provinces in the second phase of security transition in near future.

In accordance with the second phase of the process, foreign forces will also hand over security responsibilities of seven Afghan provincial capitals and over 40 districts in different provinces to the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF).

In the first phase of the security plan, the ANSF took control of seven areas in different parts of the country in July this year.

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