12 Jan 2013

US troops to take early support role in Afghanistan

1:05 pm on 12 January 2013

US President Barack Obama and Afghan President Hamid Karzai have agreed on an early handover of combat operations to Afghan troops.

After talks at the White House, Mr Obama said they had decided NATO should switch to support operations by the Afghan spring - several months earlier than the planned deadline of mid-2013.

The two leaders also backed the holding of talks between the Afghan government and Taliban leaders in Doha, Qatar.

Most of the 66,000 US troops in Afghanistan are due to leave in 2014, the BBC reports.

Mr Obama said American forces could remain in Afghanistan in that support role beyond 2014.

But this would only be at the invitation of the Afghan government and under an agreement guaranteeing US troops immunity from Afghan law.