British PM: British troops could start pulling out of Afghanistan in 2011 (2)

08:45, July 22, 2010      

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Cameron's line was reinforced in the House of Commons on Wednesday where Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, the leader of the Liberal Democrats who are the junior partner in the coalition government with Cameron's Conservative party, said "The prime minister has been clear, we have been clear we do not wish to see British troops in a combat role by 2015.

"No timetable can be chiseled in stone but given our length of time in Afghanistan we must be out by 2015. We will see our troops withdrawn from a combat role by 2015."

Clegg also asserted that a political agreement was vital to secure the stable conditions in Afghanistan necessary for troops to leave. "History teaches us insurgencies cannot be defeated by military means alone, which is why we are pushing hard for a political strategy and reconciliation," he said.

This would leave the door open for talks with the Taliban, an idea floated by the next professional head of the British armed forces General Sir David Richards last month when he said: "There' s always been a point at which you start to negotiate with each other". General Richards stressed it was a "private view" but added there was "no reason why we shouldn't be looking at that sort of thing pretty soon."

Source: Xinhua

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