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(READ): Gordon Brown hints at Afghan withdrawal…

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Source: Times Online

www.timesonline.co.uk_Gordon Brown_News_607228a_000GORDON BROWN yesterday prepared the ground for a pre-election announcement of troop withdrawals from Afghanistan next year.

During a lightning visit to the front line in Helmand province, the prime minister announced plans to double a training programme for the Afghan army to reduce its reliance on British and American troops.

“Stepping that up means the Afghans themselves take responsibility for their own affairs,” Brown said.

He also hinted that there could be a temporary increase in UK troops to support and mentor local forces, with government sources suggesting that Taliban fighters could even be granted an “amnesty” in the effort to bring the conflict to a close.

The announcement will be interpreted by opposition politicians as an attempt to lay the groundwork for a highprofile commitment next year to begin withdrawing troops from Afghanistan.

Although there is little sign that the war is being won, with this month’s democratic elections blighted by low turn-out and claims of corruption, Brown is under intense pressure to enter the general election campaign in a position to say the mission in Afghanistan is reaching its conclusion.

During yesterday’s trip, he did not specifically refer to an exit strategy or timetable for withdrawal, but moves to train more local forces would pave the way for British troops to be sent home.

It follows a bloody summer during which the number of British service personnel killed in Afghanistan has risen to 208, prompting mounting public hostility to the conflict. Recent opinion polls suggest that two in three British voters believe that UK forces should withdraw from the region. Read More

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Written by dnnnewshound

August 29, 2009 at 9:38 pm

Posted in Military, Terrorism, WAR

Tagged with , , ,

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