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British Leader Outlines Goals for Afghanistan and Yemen Conferences

  • Tom Rivers

In his monthly news conference, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown outlined what he hopes can be achieved in the two one-day international gatherings on Afghanistan and Yemen that will be held this week in London.

Mr. Brown says the London Afghan conference will outline force projections and also training projections for Afghan troops and police with the bottom-line objective being that British forces can come home once the Afghans themselves are in a position to provide their own security.

"The London conference will be attended by President Karzai, the U.N. Secretary General Ban, 60 nations will be represented," he said. "We will be announcing new figures from NATO forces and for Afghan forces in the time to come and we will be focusing on how the political and civilian surge that we plan in Afghanistan can match and compliment the military surge that is taking place."

Meanwhile, the top commander in Afghanistan, U.S. General Stanley McChrystal tells Britain's Financial Times newspaper that increased troop levels could bring a negotiated peace with the Taliban.

At Gordon Brown's news conference, the British leader was asked directly if he backed efforts to try to win over the allegiance of militants.

"Now if at the same time, we can bring over from those people who were previously associated with the Taliban or with groups that were taking action against the coalition forces, by them renouncing violence and agreeing to join the democratic process, then that is of value to the peace process," he said.

As to the issue of corruption in Hamid Karzai's government, Mr. Brown said he expects the Afghan leader will be announcing a number of new initiatives on that front in addition to security.

"President Karzai and his ministers, with the addition of the armed forces and the police have got to show that they can take security control of their country," he said. "That is what our aim is and therefore anything that suggests that the government of Afghanistan cannot deal with its corruption problems is something that we must be worried about."

One day before the Afghan meeting, international representatives will be attending a conference on security concerns in Yemen. Gordon Brown outlined the focus of those discussions.

"On Wednesday, the day before, the first international meeting will be held to agree how we can strengthen support for Yemen in its efforts against al-Qaida and how we can help the government of Yemen with development and governance," he said.

Prime Minister Brown stressed that Britain understands the risk posed by extremists and every effort he said would be made to counter those threats.

Last week, Britain raised its security warning level to the second highest stage, severe. The threat is described as 'highly likely' but not imminent.

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