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Bulgaria to Cut Three Quarters of its Troops in Afghanistan

Bulgaria will cut three quarters of its 600 troops serving in the U.S.-led International Security Assistance Force fighting Taliban insurgents in Afghanistan.

The troops will be gradually reduced in three stages from next year, Defense Minister Anyu Angelov told reporters in Sofia today. Western forces are preparing to transfer security to Afghan forces in all the country’s provinces by 2014, a target date set by NATO leaders at a summit meeting in Lisbon last November.

Bulgaria will first remove its medical teams from the Herat hospital by the of next year, then will withdraw the combat unit guarding the airport in Kabul in 2013. A unit guarding the Kandahar airport will return in 2014, Angelov said.

Some Bulgarian soldiers will remain into the second half of 2014 to train Afghan troops, Angelov said.

Bulgaria joined the North Atlantic Treaty Organization in 2004 and also has peacekeeping troops in Bosnia and Kosovo.

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