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Afghanistan aims for full security handover by 2014

By the CNN Wire Staff
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Karzai eyes security takeover in 2014
  • Karzai says he is "determined" Afghanistan will take over security by 2014
  • NEW: It's a national objective that must be fulfilled, he said at the end of a donors conference
  • Clinton says U.S. involvement in Afghanistan will continue after transition
  • Afghanistan is under pressure to take the reins of its own security

Kabul, Afghanistan (CNN) -- Afghanistan is "determined" to be responsible for its own security operations by 2014, President Hamid Karzai told an international donors conference in Kabul Tuesday.

Karzai said that Afghanistan will work with NATO and other nations on a transition for security by that date.

"I am committed to having the ability by 2014 to reach the level of strength and ability and capacity in our own forces to provide for our own security," Karzai said at a joint news conference with United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon at the end of the conference.

"We hope the international community will help Afghanistan reach that objective," Karzai said. "This is a national objective we have to fulfill -- and we must."

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The conference brought together representatives from more than 70 countries and international and local institutions to discuss Afghanistan's plan for development, governance, and stability. Among the delegates were Ban and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

The participants also discussed aid for the country and agreed to channel at least 50 percent of all donor money directly into the Afghan government's budget.

In her speech, Clinton said that while the transition to Afghan control of security could not be put off indefinitely, the United States' involvement in the country will continue. Too many nations, she said, have suffered too many losses to see Afghanistan slide backward.

"We know the road ahead will not be easy," she said. "Citizens of many nations represented here, including my own, wonder whether success is even possible -- and, if so, whether we all have the commitment to achieve it. We will answer these questions with our actions. "

Karzai's government is under pressure to cut down on corruption and take over security.

Ban reiterated that concern at the end of the conference and said that the aid pledged to Afghanistan should be disbursed in an effective and transparent manner.

Last year, U.S. President Barack Obama called for Afghanistan to increase the number of its troops to 134,000 and the number of police to 109,000 by October 2010. Afghanistan is close to reaching those targets, but some question whether more emphasis has been placed on quantity over quality.

Coalition forces are fighting a tenacious Taliban insurgency, with a wave of fatalities that made June the bloodiest month so far for U.S. and international troops in the Afghan war.

The war is also unpopular among many people in coalition countries, and Obama's administration recently made a major change in the war's leadership: replacing Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the top international commander in Afghanistan, with Gen. David Petraeus, who was the architect of the U.S. "surge" strategy in Iraq.

Petraeus, in a July 4 letter to troops, framed the conflict as a "contest of wills" as he exhorted them to win the fight against militants.

Karzai, in his speech, also preached patience.

"I also want to highlight the patience and dignity with which our civilian population has borne the brunt of the conflict and the attacks of our common enemies," he said. "But do not mistake our will to overcome them. Let our friends and partners be assured of the justness of our cause. With your support and commitment, Afghanistan will further strengthen its rightful place in the community of nations; and we thank you for this."

The meeting went off without incident. Monday night, however, several insurgents were killed and two were detained while coalition troops were looking for a Taliban facilitator who was believed to be in the final stages of planning an attack on the conference.

The alleged facilitator got away, a spokesman with the NATO-led coalition force said.

CNN's Atia Abawi contributed to this report.