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PM 'optimistic' on Afghan progress

David Cameron says he remains "cautiously optimistic" about progress in Afghanistan as he welcomed President Hamid Karzai to Number 10.

The Prime Minister insisted the growing Afghan forces were "increasingly successful" and said they would begin to take a lead on security from this year.

Speaking alongside Mr Karzai, he reiterated that there would be no UK forces in combat roles by 2015.

When he last visited British bases in Afghanistan in December, Mr Cameron said he was "cautiously optimistic".

"I stand by that assessment," he said.

"Real progress is being made every single day with our support.

"The Afghan government is taking greater responsibility for its own affairs.

"The build-up of the Afghan National Army is on target, it is now over 150,000 strong, the Afghan police has grown to over 117,000.

"And, while there are real challenges remaining, they are both increasingly successful national security forces."

Mr Cameron said British forces were continuing to "push back" the Taliban in Helmand province.

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