Brown hints at more troops for Afghanistan (Lead)

December 13th, 2008 - 9:44 pm ICT by IANS  

Gordon BrownKabul, Dec 13 (Xinhua) British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, on a surprise visit to Afghanistan, hinted Saturday that additional troops would be stationed in the troubled country. At a joint press conference after meeting President Hamid Karzai, Brown said Britain would continue to increase troops in Afghanistan to help the government establish peace and security.

However, Brown, who arrived in Afghanistan earlier Saturday and toured the troubled Helmand province to visit his troops after four British soldiers were killed, did not say how many more soldiers his government would send to Afghanistan.

Moreover, the British premier stressed on strengthening Afghan security forces, saying Kabul should be able to take the charge of the country’s security in future.

Brown also announced $10 million assistance for the Afghan government to hold elections in 2009.

Speaking at the same press conference, Karzai supported the notion of increasing British troops in Afghanistan but emphasized that the forces should be deployed along the border with Pakistan to tackle cross-border terrorism.

As the second major contributor in the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan, Britain has deployed more than 8,000 soldiers in the war-torn nation, mostly in the poppy-growing and militancy-plagued Helmand province to help in ensuring security there.

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