News / Europe

No Early Pull-Out for British Troops in Afghanistan

British Prime Minister David Cameron, left, speaks during a press conference with President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan at the Prime Minister's country residence of Chequers, at Ellesborough west of London, January 28, 2012.
British Prime Minister David Cameron, left, speaks during a press conference with President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan at the Prime Minister's country residence of Chequers, at Ellesborough west of London, January 28, 2012.

British Prime Minister David Cameron told reporters Saturday he has no plans to pull his country's combat troops from Afghanistan before the current deadline expires.  He also said Britain will continue to have a strong relationship with Kabul going forward because "it is in the interests of the whole world to have a safe and stable Afghanistan that is free from the terrorism."

Cameron's comments followed a meeting with Afghan President Hamid Karzai outside London.  The British leader said his country will continue to provide Afghanistan with aid after its troops withdraw in 2014.

His position differed from that of French President Nicolas Sarkozy, who met with Karzai on Friday.  Sarkozy said French troops will complete their withdrawal from the NATO-led mission in Afghanistan a year earlier than planned, at the end of 2013.

The French president also said France will transfer security to the Afghans in March in the eastern province of Kapisa, where nearly all French troops are based and where last week's killing of the four unarmed soldiers took place.

Karzai has said Afghanistan is ready to take on more responsibility, after receiving help from France and other countries during the past decade.

Not all Afghans are optimistic the country can succeed without continued support from NATO forces.

Political analyst Dawood Sultanzoi, a former member of parliament, says the early French withdrawal may backfire.

"Afghanistan is not ready to change the realities on the ground and move things forward and then wish there is peace and stability and there is readiness of our troops," said Sultanzoi.  "I think the troops' readiness, Afghan security forces' readiness will take time. Even 2014 is very optimistic and even with that optimism there are certain things that need to be done, so I think this is a very political timetable that Mr. Sarkozy has tried to enforce. It won't be realistic."

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

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