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Kabul 'Ready' For Foreign Troop Withdrawal

Afghan Foreign Minister Zalmay Rasul
Afghanistan's foreign minister says his country is ready for the withdrawal of foreign troops.

Nonetheless, speaking at the UN General Assembly on September 27, Zalmay Rasul warned that terrorism and extremism remain a threat despite the fact that recent "achievements and gains are nothing short of a historic transformation."

Rasul said that after over three decades of conflict his country was now a "forward-looking democracy with functioning state institutions" and the transition since the US-led assault in 2001 removed the Taliban from power was near complete.

"In the security area, it is our more than 350,000 brave and professional soldiers and police officers -- not foreign soldiers -- who are directly responsible for the security of more than ninety percent of the Afghan population," he said.

"The transfer of security responsibilities from international forces to Afghan national security forces, which we launched in the summer of 2011, throughout the country will be complete by the end of 2014."

Rasul indicated that his government was also working on peaceful negotiations and reconciliation with the Taliban.

"Parallel to our ongoing efforts to enhance the capacity and capabilities of our national security forces, the Afghan government is pursuing a political process of peace and reconciliation with the Taliban," he said.

"The key principles and conditions for this process are clear: respect for Afghanistan's constitution, which guarantees full and equal rights to Afghan men and women, preservation and improvement of our achievements over the past decade, and renunciation of violence against the population."

Based on reporting by Reuters and AFP