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Sunday, May 23, 2010

UK plans to leave Afghanistan

"We have obligations to deal with poverty and human rights but that is no different in Afghanistan from dozens of other countries."

—British Defense Secretary Liam Fox

From Australian Broadcast (ABC) May 23

"Britain considers policy shift on Afghanistan"

British defence secretary Liam Fox has indicated that the country's new government is reconsidering its approach to the war in Afghanistan.

He is currently on a visit to Kabul, but before he left London, Mr Fox revealed the potential change of policy.

In remarks in a newspaper interview, Mr Fox said Britain should focus less on state-building in Afghanistan and more on speeding up the withdrawal of its troops.

Mr Fox described Afghanistan as a broken 13th century country.

"National security is the focus now. We are not a global policeman," he told The Times.

"We have obligations to deal with poverty and human rights but that is no different in Afghanistan from dozens of other countries.

"We shouldn't deploy British troops unless there are overwhelming humanitarian emergency considerations or a national security imperative."

The comments will dismay those who see the massive expansion of the Afghan education system, funded by donors such as the UK, and the opening of school doors to girls as major successes of the post-Taliban era.

The former head of British forces in Afghanistan, Colonel Richard Kemp, warned against any drastic changes in policy.

"The priority, as Liam Fox says, is to deal with the security situation in Afghanistan and to ensure that the streets of the UK and the rest of the world are safe, safer than they are at present," he said.

"But in order to do that we must rebuild and repair the society in Afghanistan and that does include things like education policy, the economy, governance."

Britain's new foreign secretary, William Hague, also sought to assure Kabul of his government's commitment.

Ahead of a visit by three senior ministers, Mr Hague said that the conflict in Afghanistan is his most urgent priority, and Britain cannot set any kind of date for a withdrawal.

"There isn't going to be an arbitrary or artificial timetable. I don't think it's going to work like that," he said.

"As I say, we have to give the situation, the strategy that has been set out the time and the support to succeed.

"That does need, and require, Britain's continued military involvement. There is no doubt about that."


Press TV Story taken from Aletho News ...

In a U-turn in Britain’s policy regarding the Afghan war, senior government officials say they want UK soldiers to return home as soon as possible.

In an interview with The Times newspaper before arriving in Kabul on Saturday, Defense Secretary Liam Fox described the Afghan war as Britain’s most urgent priority. He said no more troops will be deployed in Afghanistan, adding that he wants to speed up the withdrawal of UK soldiers and training of Afghan forces.

Fox emphasized that the new government in London will put national security issues on top of its priority list.

“National security is the focus now. We are not a global policeman. We are not in Afghanistan for the sake of the education policy in a broken 13th-century country. We are there so the people of Britain and our global interests are not threatened,” Fox said.

Britain is the second-largest contributor of troops to Afghanistan. It has deployed some 10,000 soldiers in the war-torn country. The number of British soldiers killed in Afghanistan since 2001 stands at 286.

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