British PM makes surprise visit to Afghanistan (Lead)

June 10th, 2010 - 4:37 pm ICT by IANS  

David Cameron Kabul, June 10 (DPA) British Prime Minister David Cameron arrived Thursday for an unannounced visit to the Afghan capital.
In a press conference with President Hamid Karzai, Cameron, who took office last month, said Afghanistan was the British government’s “most important foreign policy.”

“My biggest duty as prime minister of the United Kingdom is to our armed forces, to make sure that they have all the equipment and all the protection they need to do the absolutely vital job that they are doing here in Afghanistan,” Cameron said.

Cameron announced 67 million pounds ($98 million) in extra funding for disposing of roadside bombs as well as additional funding for the Afghan army, police and civil administration. The number of British teams dealing with roadside bombs was to be doubled, he said.

“We want to make real progress this year,” Cameron said, adding that 2010 was “the vital year” to make progress in stabilising Afghanistan.

“Our overriding focus must be to help the Afghans and to help Afghanistan to take control of its own security and its own destiny,” the premier said.

Alongside the military surge to fight Taliban militants, there had to be a “proper political settlement,” Cameron said.

In London, Cameron’s visit was regarded as rounding off a period of assessment and stock taking because there are no immediate decisions on Britain’s military commitment in Afghanistan.

Defence Secretary Liam Fox said this week that he had no plans to move British forces from the southern province of Helmand to neighbouring Kandahar, were the US is preparing a major offensive, Britain’s Press Association reported.

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