Afghanistan will take charge of its own security by 2014 following an agreement at a summit of foreign donors in Kabul.
It comes as the US prepares to scale down its military presence there from July next year, although the handover will depend on the success of NATO troops stemming the threat from the Taliban as well as persuading moderate insurgents to lay down their arms.
“Never before have we had a more concrete vision of Afghanistan’s future,” said UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in Kabul. “Certainly we have challenged ourselves by setting out specific measurable commitments.”
Talk of a Washington drawdown appears to have galvanised the Taliban, who have stepped up their campaign against coalition forces in recent weeks.
Questions have also been raised about whether Afghan forces will be able to keep the peace once the Americans leave.
Delegates at the summit also agreed that 50 per cent of Afghanistan’s aid budget should be channelled through government coffers. At present, just 20 per cent of aid passes via the Afghan government.