UK troops may start leaving next year

Updated: 2010-07-22 12:03
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Britain could start withdrawing troops from Afghanistan as early as next year, British Prime Minister David Cameron said on Wednesday.

Britain has said it wants to pull the bulk of its 9,500-strong force out of the war zone within five years, in line with an international aspiration to give Afghans full control of their security by the end of 2014.

The United States, which has committed the bulk of foreign troops deployed in Afghanistan, hopes to start bringing soldiers home in July 2011. Asked whether Britain could match that, Cameron said, "Yes, we can but it should be based on the conditions on the ground."

"I mean, the faster we can transition districts and provinces to Afghan control, clearly the faster that some forces can be brought home," he said. "I don't want to raise expectations about that because that transition should be based on how well the security situation is progressing."

Cameron said the British public should be clear that, by 2015, the UK would not have "combat troops or large numbers" in Afghanistan.

Cameron discussed Afghanistan and exit strategies with US President Barack Obama on Tuesday at the White House. Both men are under strong domestic pressure to bring troops home but have also said they are determined to succeed in their mission to stabilize the country.

"Victory in this war is being able to hand over to an Afghan government and an Afghan army and police force that are capable of securing their own country," Cameron said.


1. How many troops does Britain have in Afghanistan?

2. When is it hoped the Afghans will have full control of their security?

3. When does the US hope to start bringing home troops?


1. 9,500.

2. 2014.

3. 2011.

(中国日报网英语点津 Helen 编辑)

UK troops may start leaving next year

About the broadcaster:

UK troops may start leaving next year

Lee Hannon is Chief Editor at China Daily with 15-years experience in print and broadcast journalism. Born in England, Lee has traveled extensively around the world as a journalist including four years as a senior editor in Los Angeles. He now lives in Beijing and is happy to move to China and join the China Daily team.