Allies Aim To Start Handover Of Power To Afghans

"Fearful of losing public support for the war in Afghanistan, the U.S. and NATO on Friday agreed to start transferring control of the country back to its leaders by year's end but acknowledged that achieving stability will take decades. If successful, the transition plan approved by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and representatives of the 27 other NATO countries would enable President Barack Obama to meet his target date of July 2011 for starting to bring American troops home. The stakes are high. If the plan fails, public support in Europe, the U.S. and among Afghans themselves could further erode or even collapse. Much depends not only on improved NATO military performance but also on political reconciliation between the Taliban and Afghan's central government. The allies must quickly improve the training and performance of the Afghan army and police, and strengthen Afghan institutions weakened by decades of conflict."