U.S., British leaders discuss transition in Afghanistan

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WASHINGTON. December 22. KAZINFORM U.S. President Barack Obama on Tuesday called British Prime Minister David Cameron and discussed next steps in preparing for the start of transition in Afghanistan in early 2011; Kazinform refers to Xinhua.

"They agreed on the importance of sustaining our joint efforts on Afghanistan," the White House said in a statement. "The president reviewed the conclusions of the Afghanistan Pakistan Annual Review and the Prime Minister reported on his observations from his trip to Afghanistan."

Obama unveiled last Thursday his annual review, saying the United States is on track to achieve its goals in Afghanistan, but the achievements made there are "fragile and reversible." Cameron visited Afghanistan early this month and met with Afghan President Hamid Karzai.

"They discussed next steps in preparing for the start of transition in early 2011 as agreed on at the NATO Summit in Lisbon and the importance of increasing regional support for Afghanistan," the White House said.

Leaders of NATO member states agreed at their Nov. 19-20 summit that they will start reducing troop levels in Afghanistan next year and hand over control of security to the Afghans in 2014.

The two leaders also discussed "close ongoing counterterrorism cooperation" between their countries in light of current threats and the arrests on Monday of terrorism suspects in Britain.

British police arrested 12 men on Monday morning in a large-scale national counter terrorism operation. These men, aged between 17 and 28, were detained on suspicion of "commission, preparation or instigation" of an act of terrorism in Britain.

"Looking ahead, they agreed on the value of advancing the Middle East peace process," the White House statement said, adding that they emphasized their commitment to close U.S.-Britain cooperation in 2011; Kazinform cites Xinhua.

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