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UK Troop Withdrawal: Afghanistan To See 3,800 British Troops Leave By End Of 2013

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AFGHANISTAN PULLOUT
British soldiers serving in the NATO- led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) attend Britain's Veterans Day ceremony at a NATO base in Lashkar Gah, south of Kabul, Afghanistan, Sunday, Nov. 11, 2012. (AP Photo/Abdul Khaleq) | AP

LONDON -- Prime Minister David Cameron announced Wednesday that about 3,800 British troops would be withdrawn from Afghanistan by the end of 2013.

Around 5,000 will remain into 2014, Cameron told lawmakers. The announcement comes after a lengthy video call Tuesday between Cameron and President Barack Obama.

There are about 60,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan. Cameron said the decision reflects an increasing confidence in the Afghan National Security Forces. After 2014, some troops will stay on to return equipment and deal with logistics but no details on numbers have been finalized, he said.

"We've said very clearly; no one in a combat role, nothing like the number of troops there are now," Cameron said. "We've promised the Afghans that we will provide this officer training academy that they've specifically asked for. We are prepared to look at other issues above and beyond that, but that is the starting baseline."

The withdrawal of British troops from Afghanistan will start next April, according to Defense Secretary Philip Hammond.

Hammond said fewer replacements would be sent over in the spring when the six-monthly rotation of British forces goes ahead as scheduled. A further reduction would come after the summer fighting season in September or October, Hammond said.

Cameron said Britain would continue to support Afghanistan by contributing about 70 million pounds (US $114,000) a year to help pay for the Afghan National Security Forces. Another 70 million pounds a year are spread through other aid programs.

"In terms of the diplomatic track, the thing we are most focused on is bringing Afghanistan and Pakistan together," Cameron said.

Since 2001, 438 British personnel have died in Afghanistan.

Last month, France ended its combat operations in Afghanistan, pulling hundreds of troops from a base in a volatile region northeast of Kabul and fulfilling promises to end its combat role on a faster track than other NATO allies.

France has lost 88 troops in Afghanistan since late 2001.

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