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Brown pledges $900 mln aid to Afghanistan
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09:25, December 13, 2007

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British Prime Minister Gordon Brown said on Wednesday that Britain would provide 450 million pounds (about 900 million U.S. dollars) to Afghanistan for development aid between 2009 and 2012.

"In total, Britain will make available 450 million pounds in development and stabilization assistance for Afghanistan between 2009 and 2012, covering both short- and long-term priorities," Brown said at his weekly Prime Minister's Questions session at the House of Commons.

The priorities for the country entailed Afghan "ownership" of police and security, political reconciliation, reconstruction and international commitment to long-term development, said Brown.

"Britain will continue to fulfill our obligations to the Afghan people and the international community. We will support the Afghan army, police and government as they progressively take over greater responsibility for their own security. And we will work with our international partners and help the Afghans themselves strengthen their stability, foster democracy, and build prosperity." Brown said.

"At all times we will support the hard work, dedication, professional and courage of our Armed Forces who are doing everything in their power to defeat terrorism and lay the foundations of a stable and secure future for Afghanistan." said Brown.

Britain will maintain a "a strong military force" in the country of around the current level of 7,800 armed forces personnel, said Brown.

Brown also called for a greater contribution to the security and reconstruction effort from members of the EU, NATO and the wider international community.

On Monday, Brown made a surprise visit to Afghanistan in which he has met British troops in southern province of Helmand.

It has been the first time of Brown's visit to Afghanistan since he took office, which also came amid a successful NATO and Afghan operation to retake Musa Qala district where British troops operate.

Brown met with about 150 British troops at Camp Bastion in Helmand province, thanking them for their "patriotic service" on "one of the most important missions."

He then traveled to the capital, Kabul, to meet with Afghan President Hamid Karzai.

There are currently about 7,800 British troops in Afghanistan, mostly being deployed in the unrest Helmand province. And there are about 86 British soldier killed in Afghanistan since November 2001.

British forces are deployed in Afghanistan in support of the U.N. authorized, NATO-led International Security Assistance Force mission and as part of the U.S.-led Operation Enduring Freedom.

Source: Xinhua/agencies

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