Insider attacks against coalition forces in Afghanistan are tragic but should not change the overall "strategic" direction, UK Foreign Secretary William Hague says.

Mr Hague defended the 2014 withdrawal date for combat troops in Afghanistan against criticism that the strife-torn nation is not ready.

"If we didn't set a date, then there's no knowing when that date would ever come," Mr Hague told ABC TV on Thursday.

"It seems a bit arbitrary but it's an essential part of this process."

Most security operations in Afghanistan are being handled by the Afghan security forces, he said.

"The whole point of this is for Afghans to run their own affairs, without presenting a danger to the rest of the world," Mr Hague said.

"There has to come a point when they are looking after their own affairs."

Asked whether the Afghan security forces were functional, in light of the two deaths of British soldiers from insider attacks this year, Mr Hague replied: "These are tragic events. But they shouldn't change the overall strategic picture in Afghanistan."

He said there were 300,000 Afghan security force members trained up and "many were performing well in operations against the Taliban and keeping their own citizens secure".

Earlier this week, Australia's Defence Minister Stephen Smith hinted that an Afghan-led takeover of security in Oruzgan province is set to occur ahead of schedule, raising the likelihood some Australian troops may be withdrawn sooner than expected.

Australia still has some 1550 troops in Afghanistan, most operating in Oruzgan Province.

The United Kingdom has around 9500 soldiers in the troubled country.

 

Advertisement