Afghanistan faces 'vital year', Cameron warns

David Cameron faces pressure to justify Afghanistan troop presence
David Cameron faces pressure to justify Afghanistan troop presence

By staff

David Cameron has said 2010 is a "vital year" in which success or failure will become much clearer for Afghanistan, on his first visit as prime minister to the country.

The Conservative leader flew in on an RAF aircraft before engaging in talks with president Hamid Karzai in Kabul.

He announced plans to spend an extra £67 million on countering the threat from improvised explosive devices, the Taliban's most effective method of attacking British soldiers in the country.

The money will double the number of British teams in Afghanistan tackling IEDs exclusively.

"This is the year when we have to make progress, for the sake of the Afghan people but also on behalf of people back home who want this to work," Mr Cameron said.

"No one wants British troops to stay in Afghanistan a day longer than is necessary. What we want, in our national security interest, is to hand power over to an Afghanistan that is able to take control of its own security."

The coalition government has struggled in its first month to present a united front on its approach to Afghanistan.

Defence secretary Liam Fox has said the purpose of the mission has not been to help advance the country from its current "13th century state" condition.

International development secretary Andrew Mitchell has emphasised the importance of improving Afghanistan's society and economy in a way which directly improves Britain's national security.


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