Don't miss




Amnesty chief urges France to 'stay true to its values'

Read more


Film show: 'Certain Women', 'Rock’n Roll' and 'A Wedding'

Read more


#BringBackOurInternet: English-speaking Cameroon hit by digital blackout

Read more


Preaching coexistence: Avant-garde mosque opens in Lebanon's Druze heartland

Read more


Prison guards turn guns on prisoners in Chile, and thousands of migrants stuck in smoky warehouses in Serbia

Read more


French presidential race: Le Pen makes groundbreaking visit to Lebanon

Read more


93 candles for Robert Mugabe

Read more


French Senate report: Govt policy to 'de-radicalize' jihadists is not working

Read more


Novotel attack trial gets under way in Ivory Coast

Read more


British PM Cameron rules out sending more troops on surprise visit

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2010-06-10

British Prime Minister David Cameron on Thursday ruled out sending more troops to Afghanistan, saying Britain's forces should not stay on "for a day longer" than necessary on his first visit as premier to the country.

REUTERS - British Prime Minister David Cameron on Thursday ruled out sending more troops to Afghanistan, saying Britain's forces should not stay on "for a day longer" than necessary.
On his first visit as premier to a country his new coalition government has set as its top foreign policy priority, Cameron called 2010 a "vital year" for the Afghan war and said the British public needed to see progress over the next six months.
In the month since he took power at the head of a Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition, Cameron has been conducting an intensive assessment of the situation in Afghanistan, where Britain has 9,500 troops.
Rising casualties -- nearly 300 British soldiers have been killed since 2001 -- are eroding British public support for the war. Its spiralling cost worries a Cameron government searching for deep spending cuts to rein in a gaping budget deficit.
"No one wants British troops to stay in Afghanistan for a day longer than is necessary," Cameron told a joint news conference with Afghan President Hamid Karzai at the presidential palace.
"What we want, and in our national security interest, is to hand power over to an Afghanistan that is able to take control of its own security," he said.
The number of foreign troops in Afghanistan is about to peak at around 150,000 but the death of 18 international soldiers this week alone shows that the Taliban are at their strongest since they were overthrown in the 2001 U.S.-led invasion.
In the insurgent heartland of Kandahar, a suspected Taliban suicide bomber killed at least 40 people at a wedding party on Wednesday night, officials said. Many of the guests had links to local authorities that cooperate with Western forces.
While Cameron said he fully supported U.S. President Barack Obama's strategy of sending 30,000 more troops to Afghanistan to try and turn the tide in the nine-year war, he ruled out reinforcing them with Britons.
"The issue of more troops is not remotely on the UK agenda," Cameron said.
While Britain is the second-highest troop contributor to Afghanistan, the numbers are significantly lower compared to the United States, which by year's end will have some 100,000 troops deployed.
Cameron said the British people sought word of progress in Afghanistan and of prospects for the return of British troops.
Britons want ‘clear pathway’
"I've described this year ... in terms of the NATO mission here in Afghanistan as the vital year. This is the year when we have to make progress, progress for the sake of the Afghan people but progress also on behalf of people back at home," he said.
"I want to make sure the British public have all the information they need about the progress we're making ... so the people can see a clear pathway to Afghanistan taking more control of its own security."
In the past month, Karzai has visited Cameron in Britain, three senior British ministers have made a fact-finding trip to Afghanistan and Cameron's newly created National Security Council has devoted several sessions to the Afghan conflict.
Cameron visited Afghanistan four times while opposition leader and accused the then Labour government of endangering British soldiers' by failing to equip them with enough helicopters and protected vehicles. As prime minister, he will be mindful of the need to come up with such kit quickly.
Another concern are the Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs), or homemade bombs that are a major hindrance to operations, having killed 130 foreign troops in Afghnistan this year alone. Cameron said Britain would be spending an extra 67 million pounds ($98 million) on countering the IED threat from IEDs and would be doubling the number of bomb-disposal teams in the country.
Last month, the British army's top bomb-disposal officer resigned, reportedly over a lethal shortage of trained sappers.
Most of Britain's troops are in the southern province of Helmand, scene of some of the fiercest fighting with Taliban insurgents. British forces have also been involved in recent weeks in a major offensive in Helmand dubbed Operation Moshtarak.


Date created : 2010-06-10


    Karzai and Cameron agree to strengthen Afghan-UK ties

    Read more