Is this good news for freedom in Afghanistan and America?

Joe Biden backtracks on US troop withdrawal from Afghanistan

Joe Biden, the US vice-president who has advocated a reduced war effort in Afghanistan, on Sunday backtracked on the pace of the US troop withdrawal planned for next summer.

By Alex Spillius in Washington
Published: 10:53PM BST 18 Jul 2010

He once predicted the drawdown next July would mean "a lot of people moving out". But he told ABC television that the number of US troops leaving Afghanistan "could be as few as a couple of thousand troops".

"It could be more. But there will be a transition," he added.

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President Barack Obama ordered 30,000 more troops to Afghanistan last December, bringing the US total to about 100,000, but at the same time stipulated that they would begin coming home in July 2011.

Critics have said the partial deadline emboldened the Taliban and has not had the desired effect of pushing the Afghan government to show more self-reliance.

The Obama administration is seeking to speed an end to the war as public opinion continues to turn against the nine-year conflict.

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Meanwhile, International Development Secretary Andrew Mitchell outlined plans to increase spending on aid projects in Afghanistan by 40%.