A second wave of Afghanistan's transition from NATO to local control officially started Thursday as international forces handed over most of a peaceful province.
All but two districts of Parwan province, north of the capital Kabul, are being handed to Afghan control.
The area is the first to transition formally after President Hamid Karzai announced Sunday a list of six provinces, seven cities and dozens of districts which are expected to switch in the coming weeks.
The transition process should allow foreign combat troops to leave Afghanistan by the end of 2014.
Afghan cabinet ministers and foreign officials including the US commander of NATO-led forces in Afghanistan, General John Allen, attended a ceremony in Parwan's provincial capital Charikar, an AFP photographer said.
The handover was confirmed by interior ministry spokesman Sediq Sediqqi.
Two districts in the province -- Shinwari and Siagerd, where armed insurgents are believed to have more influence than in other parts -- will not be included in the second wave of transition.
The first stage of transition began in July, with seven areas handed over.
After combat troops are withdrawn, the main role of foreign forces in the country will be to train and equip Afghan security forces.
Source: AFP Asian Edition