Official says Afghanistan ready to take over
President Hamid Karzai has been pressing for a faster pace in the withdrawal of foreign combat troops from Afghanistan and agreed with Obama last month to accelerate handover of security responsibilities to his country's newly trained security forces to this spring, instead of late summer as originally planned.


"We are ready to fill the vacuum and we are ready to take full responsibility for security in 2013," Defense Ministry spokesman Mohammad Zahir Azimi told The Associated Press. Many Afghans, however, worry that a quick drawdown will destabilize a country still fighting a war with insurgents more than 11 years after the American invasion. (AP)