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Afghan forces need help, Britain says

Feb. 27, 2013 at 11:06 AM

LONDON, Feb. 27 (UPI) -- Afghan security forces face challenges as they get ready to take the lead but they'll get support they need, British Foreign Secretary William Hague said.

Hague met in London with Afghan Defense Minister Bismillah Mohammadi to discuss the pending military transition.

"Clearly the Afghan national security forces still face considerable challenges, particularly on how to ensure proper adherence to the rule of law and respect for human rights," Hague said in a statement. "I reaffirmed that the U.K., as part of the international community, will continue to work closely with the Afghan government on these issues."

U.S. President Barack Obama said combat troops will leave Afghanistan by the end of next year, leaving the bulk of the country's security in the hands of the Afghans.

Speaking from NATO headquarters recently, U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta said U.S. forces would maintain a "strong presence" throughout the fighting season of 2013.

NATO said Afghan forces are in charge of security in more than 80 percent of the populated areas of the country. A U.N. report on Afghanistan said that while civilians continue to fall victim to insurgent attacks, the number of war-related deaths is declining.

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