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Petraeus: Gradual security handover; Taliban retain momentum in some areas

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) - The top NATO commander in Afghanistan says international forces won't hand over security to Afghan forces for entire provinces at once.

Instead, it will be a more gradual process in smaller areas as security allows.

In a wide-ranging interview with The Associated Press and two other news agencies today, Gen. David Petraeus also says he shares Afghan President Hamid Karzai's concern about extremist threats outside Afghanistan.

In an interview with NATO TV broadcast today in Brussels, Petraeus also says that despite recent successes by coalition forces, Taliban guerrillas still retain the initiative in some parts of the country.

He says NATO forces had reversed some of the gains the Taliban had made in recent years in the southern provinces of Helmand and Kandahar and around Kabul.

The NATO-led force has about 140,000 troops. Taliban guerrillas are estimated to number between 25,000 and 30,000.

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