Spain to withdraw troops from Afghanistan by 2014


Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero said his country would begin to pull troops out of Afghanistan in 2012 with the aim of completing its withdrawal by 2014.
Around 40 percent of the troops will come home in the first half of 2013, Zapatero said after a summit of European Union leaders in Brussels, in remarks carried live by Spainish TV.
Spain currently has 1,500 military personnel in Afghanistan, most of which are involved in training operations, as part of the ongoing NATO operations against the Taliban.
The Spanish leader admitted that these were provisional dates and the withdrawal of Spanish forces will happen, “taking into account the evolution of circumstances, although the plan is quite advanced.”
This is the first time Zapatero has mentioned a full withdrawal of Spanish military personal from Afghanistan, in contrast to previous stance that the mission should not be tied to a calendar, but to the fulfilling of objectives. His declarations came after U.S. President Barak Obama announced Wednesday that the United States would be taking 33,000 troops out of Afghanistan between now and the end of 2012. Spanish Defense Minister Carme Chacon said earlier in the week that Spanish troops would be setting up new teams to help with the instruction of Afghan troops who will soon be responsible for the security of their country. NNI