Britain to withdraw 500 troops from Afghanistan by end 2012: Cameron

10:59, July 07, 2011      

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Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron (C) meets Afghan National Army officers at a training centre at Camp Bastion, outside Lashkar Gah, in Helmand Province, Afghanistan July 4, 2011. (Xinhua/Reuters File Photo)

British Prime Minister David Cameron announced on Wednesday that Britain will reduce its 9,500-strong troops in Afghanistan by 500 in 2012.

In a statement to the Commons following a two-day visit to Kabul and Helmand of Afghanistan, Cameron announced a "modest reduction" in British troops for 2012 on top of the 450 already due to withdraw this year.

"We are in Afghanistan for our own national security... Afghan security have shown real progress in the last two years," Cameron said.

"I have already said we'll withdraw 426 UK military personnel by February 2012 and today I can announce that the UK will be able to reduce its force levels by a further 500 from 9,500 to 9,000 by the end of 2012," he said.

According to the prime minister, Britain will set up a new officer training academy in Afghanistan, which will be modelled on Britain's Sandhurst, aim at producing high quality platoon leaders.

It will open its doors in 2013 and accept 1,350 recruits annually with some 120 British troops involved in the training. It would provide the Afghan army officers of the future.

On Tuesday, Cameron held a press conference in Kabul and insisted the campaign against the Taliban in Helmand Province was having "success" and the transition to Afghan security control was on track.

During his visit to Afghanistan, Cameron also urged the Taliban to join in the political process, stressing that the message to the Taliban is very "clear," namely, to stop fighting and to be part of the future of this country.

Cameron's coalition government has faced more pressure after the U.S. President Barack Obama decided last month to withdraw 10,000 troops from Afghanistan and extra 23,000 next year.

The number of British military deaths in operations in Afghanistan since 2001 now stands at 375.

The British military has the second largest number of troops in Afghanistan after the U.S..

Source: Xinhua
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