NATO nations have formally agreed to start reducing troop levels in Afghanistan next year and hand over control of security to the Afghans in 2014.

NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen and Afghan President Hamid Karzai also signed an agreement on Saturday for NATO to maintain a long-term presence in Afghanistan after 2014.

Leaders of the 28-member alliance including President Barack Obama reached a consensus on the handover date, first proposed by Karzai last year, on the second day of Nato’s annual summit in Portugal’s capital.

Mr. Rasmussen says the alliance “launched the process by which the Afghan people will become masters in their own house.”

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