Cameron to Taliban: 'You can't wait this out'

2012-07-19 12:06


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Kabul - British Prime Minister David Cameron warned the Taliban on Thursday that the international community would continue to support the Afghan government after Nato troops pull out in 2014.

Cameron told a press conference with Afghan President Hamid Karzai in Kabul that a Nato conference in Chicago and a donors conference in Tokyo had recently shown the West's commitment to the war-torn country.

"I think this sends a very clear message to the Taliban: That you cannot wait this out until foreign forces leave in 2014, because we will be firm friends and supporters of Afghanistan long beyond then.

"So now is the time for everyone to participate in a peaceful political process in Afghanistan."

Karzai said the peace process was "the most important goal that we pursue".

He and Cameron will later meet Raja Pervez Ashraf, the new prime minister of Pakistan, whose intelligence agency Kabul accuses of supporting the Taliban.

Distrust, blame

"This meeting is to see how we could intensify the Pakistan role in the Afghan peace process," Karzai said.

Cameron said the "terrorists" who were trying to destabilise Afghanistan were also trying to destabilise Pakistan.

The first meeting between the three leaders comes as Britain, along with its Nato allies, prepares to withdraw its troops from Afghanistan by the end of 2014.

Relations between Afghanistan and Pakistan have traditionally suffered from distrust and mutual blame for the Taliban violence that plagues both countries.

Kabul has asked Islamabad to assist efforts to broker a peace deal with the Taliban, whose leaders have traditionally had close ties to Pakistan, but the militia has said it broke off contacts with the Americans and refuses to talk to Karzai's government.

Scaling down

Cameron also signed a deal to build an officers' training academy modelled on Britain's Sandhurst as Afghan forces take over increasing responsibility for the fight against Taliban insurgents.

On Wednesday, Cameron visited troops in the southern province of Helmand, where British forces are based.

Britain has around 9 500 troops in Afghanistan, making it the second-largest contributor to Nato's US-led 130 000-strong International Security Assistance Force, which is due to withdraw by the end of 2014.

Asked about reductions in troop numbers, Cameron said earlier it would be done in "a sensible, ordered, practical way – 9 500 to 9 000 this year".

"As Afghan troops take a bigger role we will be able to reduce troop numbers further next year," he said.

"I don't want to see some cliff edge. I'm confident we are going to have a staged reduction and deliver a safe and secure situation."

Cross-border attacks

It is the Pakistani prime minister's first visit to Kabul since being elected last month after his predecessor was dismissed for contempt, and the first time he is holding talks with Karzai and Cameron.

An Islamabad government official said he will raise the issue of cross-border attacks on Pakistan from Afghan territory and press for increased security measures to prevent such incursions in future.

Afghanistan shares a disputed and unmarked 2 400km border with Pakistan, and Taliban and other al-Qaeda-linked militants have carved out strongholds on either side.

Read more on:    nato  |  hamid karzai  |  david cameron  |  afghanistan  |  pakistan  |  war

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