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NATO+endorses+Afghanistan+withdrawal+timetable
Tuesday, 22 May 2012 - 8:39
NATO endorses Afghanistan withdrawal timetable
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NATO leaders meeting in Chicago have endorsed plans to hand over combat command to Afghan forces by mid-2013.

They confirmed NATO's combat troops would be withdrawn by the end of 2014, with only training units remaining.

NATO also said it was optimistic Pakistan would reopen supply routes that were closed after a US air strike in 2011 killed 24 Pakistani soldiers.

The two-day meeting brought together leaders from more than 50 nations, including 28 NATO countries, as well as Afghan President Hamid Karzai and Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari.

NATO's summit statement stressed that the transition to Afghan control was "irreversible" and that no combat mission would remain after the end of 2014, when 130,000 NATO-led troops are scheduled to have left.

However, President Barack Obama issued a pledge to stand by the Afghan people.

Meanwhile, NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen touched on the question of the funding of Afghan security forces post-2014, denying that the summit was intended to be a pledging conference.

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