Britain pledges long term partnership with Afghanistan

09:17, December 08, 2010      

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Britain pledged a long-term partnership with Afghanistan after British troops withdrew the country, according to the official website of Prime Minister's office on Tuesday.

British Prime Minister David Cameron has announced agreement on a long-term partnership plan which will see Britain offer economic, political and military support for Afghanistan once combat troops have gone home.

Cameron made the comments during a pre-Christmas visit to the country where he stayed overnight at Camp Bastion in Helmand province before travelling to Kabul to meet Afghan President Hamid Karzai.

He said the planned transition to Afghan control by 2014, agreed at last month's NATO Summit, did not mean the international community would then abandon the country.

Cameron said: "On the contrary, we made it clear in Lisbon that we will stand by you for the long term. Britain will remain a close and reliable partner and friend for many years to come."

The prime minister added that British troops could start coming home from Afghanistan as early as next year.

"2011 must be the year in which that progress becomes irreversible, because a safer Afghanistan means a safer Britain and a safer world," he said.

Cameron said he had seen the people of Helmand displaying more confidence in returning to their ordinary lives as the surge of troops brought improvements to the security situation.

He added that "Of course, there is no scope for complacency. This progress is still fragile. But I am cautiously optimistic. We have the right strategy...we have put in the right resources to back it up and we have also given it a very clear focus on national security and we are on the right track."

Cameron also highlighted three priorities for 2011, which he said must be "a decisive year in this campaign."

He urged to maintain the security momentum created by the military surge, to begin the process of transition of security responsibility to Afghan forces and to accelerate the Afghan-led political process of integration and reconciliation of insurgents.

Source: Xinhua


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