Prince Harry says he is returning to Afghanistan

LONDON

The 27-year-old prince, who is third in line to the throne, told guests at a military awards ceremony Monday night that he would likely return next year, The Sun newspaper reported.

"I can't wait to get out there," Harry was quoted as saying.

Harry served as a battlefield air controller in Afghanistan for 10 weeks in Deccember 2007, but was sent home early after details were made public - first by an Australian celebrity magazine and later on the Drudge Report website.

A spokesman for St. James's Palace, who spoke on condition of anonymity, would not discuss the details of when or where Harry could serve in Afghanistan. He said it would be a "matter for the military chain of command."

The prince underwent two months of combat helicopter pilot training in the U.S. and returned to Britain in November. He is now completing his Apache helicopter training at British Royal Air Force base Wattisham Station, in eastern England.

The Sun said the prince told awards ceremony guests he now hoped to utilize his months of training.

"I'm looking forward to putting it into practice," it quoted him as saying.

Britain has around 9,500 troops in Afghanistan, based mainly in the southern Helmand province. In a visit Tuesday, Prime Minister David Cameron confirmed about 500 U.K. forces will be withdrawn in 2012, before the end of the international mission by the end of 2014.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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