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Afghanistan security handover to begin on March 21 - president

RIA Novosti

14:37 06/02/2011

MUNICH, February 6 (RIA Novosti) - The first phase of handing control of Afghanistan's provinces from international forces to Afghan security forces will start on March 21, Afghan President Hamid Karzai said on Sunday.

"The first phase of transition will begin on the Afghan New Year, which is on March 21," Karzai said at the global security conference in Munich.

The responsibility for security in Afghanistan is expected to be transferred from the international troops, now numbering about 130,000, by 2014.

"Security has improved in the country, it is now better than a year or two years ago," the president said.

Russia's Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov said at the Munich conference on Saturday that the withdrawal of international peacekeeping forces from Afghanistan would pose a threat to Russia.

He said Russia will continue helping the peacekeeping forces in Afghanistan.

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