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10,000 US troops leave Afghanistan as planned
by Staff Writers
Washington (AFP) Dec 23, 2011

The US military has withdrawn 10,000 troops from Afghanistan before a year-end deadline set by President Barack Obama, officers said Friday, the first step in a planned drawdown of combat forces through 2014.

The withdrawal left about 91,000 American troops on the ground in Afghanistan, spokesman Commander Bill Speaks told AFP.

Obama announced a surge of 33,000 forces in December 2009 to turn the tide in the war.

After declaring major progress against the Taliban insurgency, Obama has since promised to withdraw the reinforcements in two stages: 10,000 by the end of this year and another 23,000 by the end of next summer.

"They have met the first target of recovering 10,000 of the surge forces by the end of the year," Speaks said.

US and coalition partners in Afghanistan plan to hand over security for the whole of the country to Afghan forces by the end of 2014, allowing the withdrawal of combat forces.

US administration officials and military commanders are debating the pace of further troop withdrawals in 2013 but have already suggested the Afghan mission will shift from direct combat to an advisory role next year.

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Commentary: The world's wealthiest
Washington (UPI) Dec 23, 2011
Qatar is bidding to become the negotiating venue for an end to the 10-year war in Afghanistan. A small peninsular nation the size of Connecticut that juts out of Saudi Arabia on the Persian Gulf, Qatar keeps punching above its weight on the international scene. With a per capita income nearly double the United States' ($84,000 versus $47,200), its 350,000 native-born citizens employ som ... read more

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