Afghan vows to assist Obama plan

WASHINGTON: Afghanistan on Friday renewed a pledge to take control of its own security within five years, with the Afghan envoy to Washington describing a US timeline for withdrawal as "realistic."

"In five years, according to our plans, we should be able to take care of security throughout the country," said Ambassador Tayab Jawad, speaking days after US President Barack Obama announced US troops would begin to pull out by July 2011.

Jawad said plans were already underway for Afghans to take control of areas in the relatively stable north and center of the country within three years, and nationwide within five years -- the end of Karzai's second term.

His comments echo a pledge by Afghan President Hamid Karzai ahead of Obama's announcement on Tuesday, which also included details of a surge of 30,000 troops to win the brutal eight-year war.

But amid concerns that Afghan forces will not be ready to take responsibility for security in that timeframe, Jawad said a joint Afghan-NATO-US panel should be set up to help preparations.

"For a smooth transfer we are asking for the establishment of a joint security consultation group with the US and NATO. Some of the initial consultation about that matter has already started," he said.

"We understand that fighting and dying for Afghanistan is our responsibility. We are ready to take that responsibility," said Jawad, "it is a tough mission a difficult war, it is a brutal war."

He added that there were "many regional factors that will impact... the drawdown of the US forces," but that Obama's plan was "realistic."