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At an international conference in Kabul in July, donor nations approved a 10-page communique that restated strong support for channeling at least 50 percent of development aid through the Afghan government within two years if the government reforms, reduces corruption and strengthens its public financial management systems.

“There should be more cooperation between Afghanistan and the U.N offices working in different areas throughout the country,” he said. “We have asked for a report about the expenses of the U.N.”

Mr. Karzai‘s speech reflected his desire not to be dependent on foreign forces forever, although the Afghan security forces have yet to overcome the lack of training and equipment, illiteracy, corruption, and shortages of top officers and international mentors. Mr. Karzai delivered his speech at a ceremony marking the graduation of a third class of Afghan army officers.

In Brussels, NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen welcomed Mr. Karzai‘s announcement.

“This represents the next stage of Afghanistan’s journey, not the destination,” he said in a statement. “And every step of the way will be determined by conditions on the ground.”

But Mr. Fogh Rasmussen warned that the transition is not a sign the allies can start withdrawing from Afghanistan, stressing it was vital that NATO keep up training Afghan forces “in order to ensure that transition is irreversible.”

“I understand that as this transition gets under way, political leaders are facing pressure to bring their troops home for good,” he said, but NATO’s principal approach remains “in together, out together.”

Amir Shah, Rahim Faiez and Solomon Moore in Kabul and Slobodan Lekic in Brussels contributed to this report.