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British PM: Afghanistan Must Provide its Own Security


Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron has pledged support for Afghanistan's new president and the country's new unity government, but says the country can defend itself now.

During a surprise visit Friday to Kabul, Cameron met with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani.

Cameron said an Afghanistan free from al-Qaida is in Britain's interest.

"Britain has paid a heavy price for helping to bring stability to this country. But this is where al-Qaida trained its terrorists," said Cameron. "This is where 9/11 and countless other plots were hatched. And Afghanistan free from al-Qaida is in our national interest, as well as Afghanistan's. And now 13 long years later, Afghanistan can and must deliver its own security."

Cameron said Britain will continue to support the development of the Afghan forces despite bringing home all of its combat troops by the end of the year.

Britain currently has 3,000 troops in Afghanistan as part of the NATO force.

The British prime minister was the first Western leader to meet Ghani since his inauguration on Monday.

Ghani’s election rival Abdullah Abdullah was sworn-in as the country's new chief executive in a power-sharing deal reached after months of a post-election crisis.

Cameron praised Ghani and Abdullah for working together.
"The real and pressing need is for this new national unity government to bring the country together in a way that can deliver non-corrupt good governance to the whole of Afghanistan and indeed offer a path into taking part in politics, to all those who want to give up violence," said Cameron.

Ghani paid tribute to NATO troops who died fighting in Afghanistan, saying the country's recent election, and the unity government that followed, was a result of that sacrifice.

On Tuesday, officials from Afghanistan and the United States signed a bilateral security agreement that will allow nearly 10,000 U.S. military and civilian personnel and another 2,000 NATO forces to stay after the original December 31 deadline for the international troops to exit.

The pact allows the foreign coalition to continue training Afghan security forces and targeting al-Qaida operations in the country.