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Pakistan army doubts Afghanistan ready for pull-out: Gen. Kayani

17 September, 2011

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SEVILLE: Pakistan's army chief said on Friday he doubted neighboring Afghanistan would be ready for international troops to leave by 2014 as planned.

"Frankly, I have my doubts," General Ashfaq Kayani told while talking to the media on the sidelines of a NATO Military Committee conference in the Spanish city of Seville. Kayani said he thought an alternative deadline might be possible.

"No date can be a final date," he said.

The NATO-led International Security Assistance Force is training Afghan security forces and is due to fully withdraw from the war-torn central Asian country by 2014.

NATO considers Pakistan to be a key regional player and Afghanistan's security situation was on the agenda at the U.S.-led alliance's two-day conference in Seville.

A NATO spokesman said the alliance thought the gradual withdrawal of international forces was moving ahead on time.

"There are encouraging signs of progress as far as transition at this stage is concerned," Brigadier General Massimo Panizzi told journalists.

Taliban rebels have recently, however, managed to attack several well-guarded targets in the Afghan capital, Kabul.

Kayani added that he thought relations between the United States and Pakistan were satisfactory.

"Relations are good. They are improving," he said.

On Thursday the Pakistani Foreign Ministry said a U.S. warning on militants based in Pakistan, blamed by Washington for this week's attack on the U.S. Embassy in Kabul, worked against counter-terrorism cooperation between the two allies.

End.

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