| GEO World|
| Some Afghan provinces to be handed over by spring: Britain|
| Updated at: 1111 PST, Friday, July 16, 2010|
LONDON: Afghan forces should be able to take control of several provinces from Western troops by next spring, a senior British official said, scaling back a previous British and NATO goal of starting handovers in 2011.
"It is our expectation that between the NATO summit in Lisbon in November and next spring, the first handful of provinces will have transitioned," the senior Foreign Office official, speaking on condition of anonymity told British news agency.
The target is less ambitious than an agreement reached by NATO foreign ministers in April to start handing over security responsibility to Afghan forces this year.
Former Prime Minister Gordon Brown had called for at least five provinces to be transferred to Afghan control by the end of 2010.
The British official said it might still be possible to hand over some provinces before next spring, "but we don't want to set a timetable on that because NATO has not discussed it in detail."
The official expected the NATO Lisbon summit to lay out the broad process and timetable for taking transition forward.