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UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown Unveils New Afghan Strategy after Kabul Visit

The United Kingdom’s Prime Minister Gordon Brown traveled to Kabul on an official State visit on December 11. This was Mr. Brown's first visit as Prime Minister, although he had previously traveled to Afghanistan as the UK’s Chancellor.

The Prime Minister met with President Karzai to discuss security and reconstruction, focusing on the military campaign in Musa Qala.  Afghan and NATO forces successfully dislodged terrorists from Musa Qala during Prime Minister Brown’s visit. Speaking at a joint press conference, Prime Minister Brown said military support would continue, as would support for social and economic development, including building schools, developing healthcare, and creating small businesses. He praised the leadership role of Afghan forces in fighting the Taleban, stressing the tactical leadership role being played by the Afghan security forces.

"I want to give President Karzai my assurance that our support will continue over these next few years to make it possible not only for the security of the Afghan people but also the economic and social development of your country so that people can have a stake in the future,"  said the Prime Minister.

The Prime Minister also spoke about the importance of Musa Qala during talks with British troops at Camp Bastion, the UK's largest military base in the country. "If we can succeed (in Musa Qala) it will mean we can move forward events in Afghanistan in favor of a more peaceful future for this country," he said. "This is one of the most challenging of environments, it's one of the most difficult of tasks, it's the most testing of times and it's the most important of missions because to win here and to defeat the Taleban and to make sure that we can give strength to the new democracy of Afghanistan is important for defeating terrorism all round the world."  7,800 British troops are in Afghanistan, concentrated in Helmand Province.

Upon his return to England, Prime Minister Brown made a statement on Afghanistan to the British Parliament and unveiled a new framework on Afghanistan. The new framework will place greater emphasis will be placed on political, civil and economic initiatives while emphasizing Afghan ownership of the security environment, strengthening of provincial and local institutions, political reconciliation and enhanced reconstruction.

Prime Minister Brown called on the international community to shift emphasis from short-term stabilization to long-term development and announced the commitment of 150 new protected patrol vehicles specially procured for Afghanistan, additional Sea King helicopters, about $900 million in economic aid between 2009 and 2012, and 340 additional British trainers and mentors for the Afghan security forces. The Prime Minister told lawmakers that Britain would support President Karzai in efforts to negotiate political reconciliation with moderate elements within the Taliban."If they are prepared to renounce violence and abide by the constitution and respect basic human rights then there is a place for them," said the Prime Minister.

“Britain will continue to fulfill our obligations to the Afghan people and the international community. We will support the Afghan army, police and government as they progressively take over greater responsibility for their own security. And we will work with our international partners and help the Afghans themselves strengthen their stability, foster democracy, and build prosperity,” he concluded.

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