News / Europe

British PM Rules Out More Troops for Afghanistan

Tom Rivers

On his first trip to Afghanistan as prime minister, David Cameron met Thursday with President Hamid Karzai.  The new British leader stressed that Afghanistan is his country's top foreign affairs issue, while at the same time, ruling out any further troop deployments.

But Cameron promised more money would be made available to counter the threat of roadside bombs to British troops.  

Standing next to President Karzai, Prime Minister Cameron cited what he called the long, important relationship between the two countries and the importance his new coalition government places on the British mission in Afghanistan.

"For me, the issue of Afghanistan is the most important foreign policy issue, the most important national security issue for my country, and it is that national security approach that I want to stress here today," said Cameron.  "It is my number one priority.  That is why I was so pleased to welcome President Karzai as my first visitor to Chequers as he said.  It is why I formed a national security council immediately on talking office and it is why I have made this visit to Afghanistan very early on since becoming prime minister."

Speaking at a joint news conference with President Karzai in Kabul, Mr. Cameron repeated a line often delivered by the former Labor government; namely, that the aim is to get the Afghans to get to a point where they can take control of their own security and own destiny.

But time itself has become an important factor in the equation of public opinion.  The NATO mission in Afghanistan has now lasted longer than the Vietnam war.  Polls repeatedly show that the British public is growing increasingly weary of the conflict.  The British economy is in rough shape and a planned defense review by Cameron's government is expected to slash expenditures.

Under this backdrop, the British leader said that the next 12 months in particular must prove to be successful.

"I have described this year, and the president I know agrees, in terms of the NATO mission in Afghanistan as the vital year.  This is the year when we have to make progress, progress for the sake of the Afghan people, but progress also on behalf of people back at home who want this to work and want to see real progress this year," said Cameron.

That, Prime Minister Cameron said, includes not only the military aspects of the Afghan mission, but also progress in the political sphere in areas like reconciliation and reintegration.

Specifically on the military front, he promised more financial support directly where it is needed most.

"My biggest duty as prime minister of the United Kingdom is to our armed forces and to make sure they have all of the equipment and all of the protection that they need to do the absolutely vital job that they are doing here in Afghanistan," Cameron said.  "And I am pleased to announce today that we will be spending an extra 67 million pounds ($97 million) on countering the IED [improvised explosive device] threat and actually doubling the number of British teams that are there to counter the threat from those explosive devices."

Britain is the second largest contributor to NATO in Afghanistan.  Just under 10,000 British troops are in the country with most deployed in the south, where violence has been the worst.

As to any move to build-up that number, Mr. Cameron flatly ruled that out saying, "The issue is not remotely on the U.K. agenda."

You May Like

Nigeria Incumbent in Tight Spot as Poll Nears

Muhammadu Buhari is running a strong challenge to Goodluck Jonathan, amid a faltering economy and Boko Haram security worries More

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo tells VOA that despite her fame, life is still a struggle as she waits for government's promise of support to arrive More

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

At least seven different indigenous groups in Ratanakiri depend mainly on forest products for their survival, say they face loss of their land, traditional way of life More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More