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British forces prepare for Afghan exit

June 19, 2013 at 12:56 PM

LONDON, June 19 (UPI) -- British forces operating in Afghanistan said they are working to pull their equipment out of the country without jeopardizing existing obligations.

The British Ministry of Defense said there is $17 million worth of infrastructure in place to prepare military equipment for the return home from Afghanistan or for future redistribution.

NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said Tuesday national security forces in Afghanistan had the lead in security operations as international forces wind down their mission.

British Brig. Duncan Capps said getting military equipment out of Afghanistan without comprising operational efforts was a huge challenge.

"We are reducing the capacity, using up the stocks, but we are doing that without reducing capability," he said Wednesday from London.

U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said Tuesday the security takeover was a milestone for a mission that began in 2001.

"This achievement keeps us and our coalition partners on track to bring our combat mission to a close next year and transition to a non-combat, train, advise and assist mission that will help ensure Afghans can sustain security into the future," he said in a statement.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai said Wednesday he was suspending broader security negotiations with the U.S. military because of frustrations over peace talks with the Taliban.

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