From Reuters: Germany and Britain called on Sunday for a U.N. conference on Afghanistan this year to set new targets for transferring security responsibilities to the Afghan authorities as a prelude to reducing NATO troop levels.

Chancellor Angela Merkel and Prime Minister Gordon Brown told a news conference in Berlin they were launching the initiative together with French President Nicolas Sarkozy and had already consulted with Washington and NATO.

“Our plan is to prepare the Afghan government, over the coming transition period, to take on an increasing number of responsibilities itself,” Merkel told reporters.